One of Malawi’s major tobacco firms, Alliance One Tobacco (Malawi) Limited, has painted a rosy picture on the future of tobacco business in Malawi.
The company says it is banking hopes on the Integrated Production System (IPS) which will help Malawi address the issue of overproduction of the leaf.
“I don’t think we should be pessimistic. IPS has been embraced and that’s what our customers want,” said Alliance One managing director Hughes Saunders on Friday in Lilongwe during a tour of the company’s tobacco processing facilities by Indian envoy to Malawi, Ambassador Rao.
The IPS, which was approved by President Joyce Banda earlier this year, is scheduled to be implemented from the 2012/13 tobacco growing season.
It is an initiative in which tobacco buyers combine farming and marketing strategies by dealing directly with farmers in producing the leaf.
If implemented fully, the IPS will see the traditional auction floors handling 20 percent of the total volume of tobacco produced with the rest being handled through contract.
Saunders explained that his company was one of the advocates of the new system which, he said, will help Malawi balance demand and supply of tobacco.
He said IPS will help the country sustain tobacco business by complying with international buyers’ standards which will help grow Malawi tobacco industry.
“Even with all the negativities around, Malawi tobacco has a future and we are happy that government is very accommodating and realises the importance of tobacco,” said Hughes.
But he admitted that it will be ‘naive’ to think that Malawi will still grow tobacco forever, stressing that there is need to diversify into other viable commodities.
The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Dr. Bruce Munthali thanked Alliance One for its tireless efforts in ensuring the growth of tobacco industry.
But he reminded all tobacco merchants plying their trade in the country that President Banda would like to see improved prices on the market next year and beyond as a way of increasing income levels by tobacco growers.