President Peter Mutharika has said Malawi needs to accept that tobacco is on the verge of losing its shine and alternative crops should be identified to support the country economically.
Speaking when he met International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) president Kanayo Nwanze at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe yesterday, Mutharika said he has tried all he could to make buyers offer substantial funds for the country’s golden leaf, but they take no heed of his plea.
He said: “Tobacco is the only crop whose price is determined by the buyers. I have tried to engage them and I have met them many times here, in New York and many other places where they would promise you a price they adhere to only the first day of sales and by the second day they go to their old ways.
“This is a clear sign that we need to move on and we are focusing on crops such as legumes for which we are looking for markets in places such as Asia.”
Mutharika also said as one way of making prices competitive for the farmers, government has set up two commodity exchange markets where farmers have a chance to bargain for prices for their produce and sell only when they are satisfied.
Malawi has for a long time relied on tobacco as the country’s major forex earner.
Since the start of relationship between Malawi and Ifad in 1981, the organisation has spent about $244 million (about K183 billion) on projects which were aimed at promoting agriculture and rural livelihood in the country.
However, new Ifad projects are going to attract additional funds to be pumped into the country.
“We are looking at an additional, close to $100 million, which is going to be given to Malawi for these new projects between 2016 and 2021.” n