Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale has advised the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining to formalise arrangements to allow Alliance One Tobacco Malawi Limited harvest trees from Viphya Plantation for curing its tobacco.
In a letter The Nation has seen addressed to the Principal Secretary for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, chairperson for Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change and chief executive officer for the Public Private Partnership Commission, the AG has advised that the negotiations should start immediately.
In the letter, Kaphale noted that much as there was no written agreement on harvesting rights, as far back as 2013, both parties understood that Alliance One wanted to use the trees to cure its tobacco.
Reads the AG’s letter in part: “Going forward, I note that under Section 36 of the Forestry Act, the minister may authorise the director of forestry to enter into a forestry plantation agreement with any non-governmental organisation and such agreement shall, among other things, convey rights to harvest the forest plantation in accordance with the terms of the agreement.”
Alliance One Tobacco Malawi Limited, one of the tobacco buying and processing firms, has been asking government for the rights since 2012 when they planted the first trees in Viphya Plantation, widely known as Chikangawa Forest; Dzalanyama Forest Reserve and Ngala forests to use for processing flue-cured tobacco. However, the process to give them rights seemed slow.
In an interview yesterday, Alliance One Tobacco managing director Hugh Saunders welcomed the decision by the AG, saying it will direct them in a right position.
Parliament’s Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee chairperson Werani Chilenga, also said he was happy the committee has brought a positive intervention and it will make Malawi earn something once the processes are done.
Malawi risked losing about K450 million annually if Alliance One was denied the rights. n