TC sensitising growers to new Tobacco Act

Tobacco Commission (TC) says despite the  new Tobacco Industry Act protecting growers from exploitation, it will also punish them for poor growing practices.

The warning comes as the regulatory body has embarked on a nationwide sensitisation campaign to appraise tobacco growers on what they should expect before full implementation of the law.

TC Central Region division manager Patricia Kasamale said last week in Lilongwe that some growers use unacceptable practices when growing the crop; hence, the law will deal with those malpractices.

She said: “Issues of compliance cannot be questioned. For the industry to grow, growers need to follow best agricultural practices and uprooting the stalks is one of them.

“If they don’t do this, it means our tobacco is not meeting international standards. So, we are keen on this to ensure growers comply.”

Kasamale said if stalks are not uprooted, they become the hub of diseases from one season to another.

The Act provides for a fine of K2 million for failure to uproot tobacco stalks.

Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) director of finance and administration Andrew Mfune said the new Act will, among others, improve the quota TC allocates to growers.

“Tobacco Commission has been reluctant because some growers have been using other people’s licences to grow tobacco and the Act has taken care of such shortfalls and we are happy as Tama,” he said.

On crop diversification, Mfune said Tama has 49 cooperatives spread across the country where farmers are encouraged to diversify away from tobacco.

As of last week Friday, after eight weeks of sales, TC figures showed that tobacco earned $77 million (about K56.8 billion) compared to $122 million (about K90 billion) during the same period last year, representing a 37 percent drop.

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