As the global anti-smoking lobby continues, AHL Group, formerly Auction Holdings Limited, has urged farmers in the Northern Region to consider diversifying production by growing other crops, especially legumes.
AHL Group, which owns the country’s tobacco floors, says buyers will only buy 120 million kilogrammes (kgs) of burley tobacco during the 2017 season, down from 135 million this year.
Speaking during one of the campaign meetings at Bolero in Rumphi, Mzuzu Floors manager Joseph Kawinga called on farmers to increase production of legumes such as beans and peas which are on high demand in Asian countries.
He said: “Over the years, volumes of tobacco that merchants have been pledging to purchase from Malawi have been decreasing. For example, in the 2016 selling season, the trade requirement for burley was 135 million kilogrammes, and for the coming season, it is expected to drop to 120 million kilogrammes.
“We are, therefore, encouraging you to reduce production of the leaf and add extra gear in cultivating other crops such as pigeon peas, soya, groundnuts, sunflower, cow peas, beans, rice that can also provide more income just like tobacco.”
Andrew Butao, a farmer at Bolero, said the 2016 tobacco market season was very challenging as it was characterised by high rejection rate and low prices.
“As I am talking to you, some of my tobacco is yet to be sold. We are not surprised that AHL Group is encouraging us to reduce tobacco growing because the leaf is now not helping us,” he said. n