Smallholder tobacco growers continue to wallow in abject poverty and destitution despite playing a key role in producing the leaf that brings in more foreign exchange for the country, a chief in Machinga has complained.
Group village head (GVH) Maganiza, speaking at Nanyumbu Extension Planning Area (EPA) last Thursday where Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) held a field visit, said it is a pity that tobacco has failed to translate the living standards of growers in the district.
“We are being told today that AHL is clocking 79 years of selling tobacco on behalf of farmers. That is not a mean achievement.
“We are also aware that tobacco is contributing significantly to the development of this country. It is, however, unfortunate that this is not translating into improved living standards of farmers,” he said, amid handclapping from growers who gathered for the ceremony.
Maganiza appealed to government and companies that buy tobacco to consider increasing the minimum prices if the lives of farmers are to improve.
While concurring with Maganiza, Saukani Farmers Club chairperson Major Kandulu asked for improved service delivery at AHL to ensure that farmers do not struggle to get information when their leaf has been transported to the market.
AHL regional manager for the South, Moses Yoramu, said the tobacco auctioneer is equally affected when tobacco fetches poor prices on the market.
“Falling tobacco prices is a matter of concern to every well-meaning Malawian, including AHL. Our existence as a business entity depends on the tobacco you produce. We, therefore, share the pain,” he said.