Tobacco Commission (TC) says the auction system of selling tobacco will now be subjected to strict compliant issues just like the Integrated Production System (IPS), also known as contract farming.
TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said in an interview yesterday that one of the critical elements on tobacco production is traceability demanded by cigarette manufacturers worldwide.
He said Malawi is currently implementing such a demand through IPS, but observed that in the past, tobacco under auction system has fallen short of such a compliance issue.
Said Sadala: “In view of this, the commission is advising all tobacco growers that efforts under IPS shall also be applicable under auction system. Basically, we want to establish where the tobacco is grown, how is it grown and who is growing this tobacco.”
Explaining some of the strategies that TC will use to ensure tobacco growers under auction are also compliant, he said the regulatory body will now be vetting all new applicants before issuing a licence.
He said TC will also be validating land availability for all new applicants.
Sadala said TC will also implement know-your-customer inititive for all tobacco growers while also undertaking Global Positioning System (GPS), a satellite-based radionavigation system, so that every tobacco grower’s database is fully known.
“In compliance with the law, the commission will ensure that all research, extension services and use of chemicals and pesticides are duly complied with,” he said.
Reacting to TC’s stance, Phindu Tobacco Growers Association president Abel Kumwenda yesterday welcomed the development, saying it will help improve the traceability of tobacco which is one of the key prerequisites by cigarette manufacturers.
But he wondered whether TC will have the capacity to reach out to all tobacco growers in its pursuit for compliance.
But Sadala said TC is in the process of enhancing its structures, disclosing that it will establish what he called a Liaison and Compliance Unit which will be key to reach out to all tobacco growers in the country.
IPS is a marketing agreement that commits tobacco companies to buy a predetermined volume from a grower.
Following the adoption of IPS in 2012, the country runs two parallel tobacco selling systems with 80 percent of the leaf sold under IPS and 20 percent under auction. Globally, tracing growers’ farming location, farming methods and how growers address issues of child labour and deforestation are pertinent matters of concern to cigarette manufacturers.