Pyxus Agriculture Limited, a subsidiary of tobacco buying and processing firm Alliance One, says it plans to work with farmers on contract to produce high-value legumes for the export market.
The firm has identified alternative crops to tobacco, which is fast losing its international allure due to a worldwide anti-smoking campaign.
Pyxus Agriculture Limited managing director Ron Ngwira said on Wednesday in Lilongwe during a field day that the firm will this year work with 10 000 farmers to grow groundnuts and another 1 000 to grow sunflower.
He said: “We wanted our partners and stakeholders to appreciate our initial promise that we intend to assist in transforming some of agricultural value chains.”
Ngwira said the company plans to invest in groundnuts and sunflower factories once farmers start producing better quality crops in required quantities.
Pyxus Value Added Agriculture Products Division executive vice-president Jose Maria Costa said due to the global anti-smoking lobby, the firm has decided to diversify.
He said: “When tobacco production goes down, we ask ourselves what are we going to do with the farmers, how can we find alternative crops that farmers can grow and generate alternative income and add value to them?”
United States Agency for International Development (USaid) Feed the Future director of strategic partnerships Jeremy Venable said they are working with the firm on their crop diversification by providing technical assistance and knowledge to help farmers implement their activities.