BLANTYRE, MALAWI – Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera stated Tuesday the nation ought to transfer away from rising tobacco, though it contributes to greater than 60 % of the nation’s earnings, as a result of he sees no future in persevering with to develop it.
At the opening of tobacco promoting season, Chakwera stated Malawi ought to swap to different money crops like cannabis, which was legalized final yr for industrial and medicinal use.
He stated Malawi’s tobacco business is dying largely due to low demand on the worldwide market because of ongoing world anti-smoking campaigns, championed by the World Health Organization.
“And we need an exit strategy to transition our farmers to crops that are more sustainable and more profitable,” Chakwera stated. “I am therefore calling on the Ministry of Agriculture to begin consultations with all stakeholders to come up with a timeframe within which Malawi’s economy will be completely weaned from tobacco.”
The president stated rising cannibis, higher generally known as marijuana, could be a sensible substitute for Malawian farmers.
“Recently, we enacted a law which allows the growing of industrial cannabis,” he stated. “This will also help farmers to earn a lot of money because there is a lot of money in it.”
Chakwera stated within the meantime, there’s a want to finish the market monopoly which leads to low tobacco costs within the nation.
“Addressing this power imbalance, (it) is for the Ministry of Agriculture to work with Tobacco Control Commission on ways of attracting more buyers beyond the nine we currently have,” he stated. “In that way, there is more competition and less monopoly among buyers. Because monopoly is one of the factors that contributes to the disempowerment of the farmers.”
In March, Malawi’s authorities signed an settlement with tobacco leaf consumers and set a minimal worth of about $230 per kilogram.
In the previous, consumers would provide as little as $0.50 per kilogram of tobacco.
Betchani Tchereni, an economics lecturer on the University of Malawi, helps the decision to cease rising tobacco, however stated it will not be simple.
“Yes, he (Chakwera) is very right. But at the beginning, first, the second and maybe even the third year, it will be tough for us to acclimatize to the new stuff,” Tchereni stated. “But we just have to go to the new stuff. We just have to go into ground nuts, beans, industrial hemp — research has shown us that that’s where money is.”
Some farmers stated the decision to cease tobacco farming is disappointing.
Isaac Sambo, a tobacco farmer in central Malawi’s Kasungu district, stated he was stunned to listen to the president’s advice, and had anticipated the president to assist discover extra tobacco markets. Sambo added that it is extremely troublesome to modify to different crops, and that not all crops can adapt to some climate circumstances.
Chakwera stated he is aware of that many farmers is not going to like the concept of switching from tobacco, however he is not going to shrink back from telling the reality.