Tobacco farmers in the North have called for the abolishment of contract marketing of the crop, arguing they are not benefiting from the system.
The call was made on Tuesday during Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) growers tour at the Mzuzu Auction Floors.
In his remark, the farmers coordinating chairperson Joasi Mulungu said the system is exploitative, saying, among others, growers are forced to get loans and in the end, all their efforts go to loan repayment.
“Our major concern is the contract farming. It will be good if we only use the usual auction system. We are no longer reaping as we did with the contract farming system. We are forced to get loans from buyers which we end up repaying with huge interests without remaining with something as used to,” explained Mulungu.
AHL floors manager Tim Kachitosi indicated that calls for abolishment of contract marketing are policy matters that can best be commented by Tobacco Commission (TC).
TC chief executive officer Kaisi Sadala said abolishing contract farming is not a solution.
“The system was put in place to meet trade requirements and abolishing it will lead to collapsing of the tobacco industry because more buyers will run away from us. By all means, we need to meet the buyers’ expectation to sustain the industry. After all, if they were making losses, they would stop cultivating tobacco and plant other crops,” he said. Contract farming is a concept under the Integrated Production System (IPS) Malawi government approved as policy in 2012