Players in the tobacco meet in the lakeshore district of Mangochi from today for a two-day tobacco seminar aimed at reviewing the industryâ€™s performance in 2012.
The meeting comes barely two weeks after the postponement of the implementation of the World Health Organisationâ€™s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) Articles 17 and 18, intended to abolish tobacco farming.
The meeting under the theme â€˜Tobacco: the road to recoveryâ€™ is also being held when tobaccoâ€”Malawiâ€™s main export commodityâ€”has this year earned Malawi $177 million (K58 billion) this year, a drop from last yearâ€™s $292 million (K96 billion).
Key issues likely to spark debate is the approval of the Integrated Production System (IPS) of growing tobacco this year which has already sent shivers in the tobacco industry as some quarters fear the system would render most growers destitute.Â Â
The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) public relations officer, Juliana Chidumu, said on Friday that the meeting, to be officially opened by President Joyce Banda, will strategise on how best Malawi should tackle continued internal and external pressure from the industry.
She said stakeholders are scheduled to bang heads on other challenges ranging from tobacco production in the next farming years to market-related challenges such as continued Non- Tobacco Related Material (NTRM) cases.
Chidumu said the annual meeting will draw tobacco buyers, policy makers at Capital Hill, tobacco sector service providers, financial institutions, tobacco growers association, tobacco grading companies and transporters, among others.
â€œEvery year, we meet to discuss and review the performance of the industry and you are aware that this year the country is moving forward to economic recovery. I think this year yearâ€™s meeting is timely and crucial,â€ she said.
Chidumu said participants will also discuss FCTC Articles 17 and 18 and how best Malawi can strategise in the wake of the adoption of the articles during the next Conference of Parties (CoP) to be held in 2014 in Russia.