JTI Leaf Malawi Limited has told tobacco farmers to forget about the green gold business if they do not plant trees, a critical resource in the curing of the crop.
JTI, one of the tobacco buying and processing companies in the country, challenged the tobacco growers of Ndima Village, Traditional Authority Dzoole in Dowa during the company’s launch of the tree-planting season on Friday.
The firm’s managing director Fries Vanneste said trees are a major resource in tobacco production; hence, they need constant replacement to ensure their availability every year.
“We cannot talk of a thriving tobacco industry where there are no trees because they are an important resource. Tobacco farmers need trees for flue-cured tobacco as well as construction of barns,” he said.
Most of the tobacco grown in the country comes from the Central Region, and because of this, trees have been depleted.
The tobacco industry has traditionally used wood-based barns in the curing and storage of tobacco green leaf from the field, but with the high rate of deforestation, the system has proven to be unsustainable.
Vanneste said looking at the way trees have been depleted in the country, the company plans to plant three million trees nationwide to support farmers and government’s efforts to increase vegetative cover.
He advised farmers to take good care of the trees