Group Village Head (GVH) Maganiza of Machinga says small scale tobacco growers continue to live in abject poverty despite producing the leaf that generates foreign exchange for the country.
Speaking at Nanyumbu Extension Planning Area (EPA) on Thursday— where Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) held a field visit— he said it was a pity tobacco has failed to improve living standards of the growers.
“We are being told that AHL is clocking 79 years of selling tobacco on behalf of the farmers. That’s not a mean achievement. We’re also aware that tobacco is contributing significantly to the development of this country.
“It’s, however, unfortunate that this is not translating into improved living standards of farmers,” he said amid handclapping from the growers.
He further appealed to government and companies that buy tobacco to consider increasing the minimum prices “if lives of these farmers are to improve.”
While concurring with Maganiza, Saukani Farmers Club chairperson Major Kandulu asked for an improved service delivery at AHL to ensure farmers have full access to information.
AHL regional manager for the South Moses Yoramu, echoed the GVH concerns, saying his institution 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 the AHL. Our existence as a business entity depends on the tobacco you produce. We, therefore, share the pain when the leaf fetches poor prices,” said Yoramu.
The field visit was aimed at updating growers on new developments in the tobacco sector to enable farmers prepare for the next season.