Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has said it welcomes the newly adopted Integrated Production System (IPS) of growing tobacco.
The companyâ€™s corporate affairs manager, Limbani Kakhome, made the stance on Friday at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station in Lilongwe during a tour by Minister of Agriculture Professor Peter Mwanza at a tobacco farm owned by Violet Savala, facilitated by JTI.
â€œI must first of all commend government for its bold decision to move away from the traditional auction system to the IPS,â€ said Kakhome.
He said while the policy shift will be a gradual process, the initial steps that government has taken are significant to send good signals for the future of Malawi tobacco.
IPS, which was approved by President Joyce Banda earlier this year, is an initiative in which tobacco buyers combine farming and marketing strategies by dealing directly with farmers in producing the leaf.
Thus, if implemented fully, the IPS will see the traditional auction floors only handling 20 percent of the total volume of tobacco produced, a situation which has already worried senior tobacco players such as Auction Holdings Limited (AHL).
â€œIPS provides for direct, win-win transactions between farmers and buyers,â€ said Kakhome.
He said with the formal introduction of IPS, JTI will further consolidate its relationship with farmers and other tobacco stakeholders.
Kakhome said the companyâ€™s objective is to contribute to Malawi regaining its position as the leading exporter of burley tobacco and also support the countryâ€™s economy recovery plan.
On his part, Mwanza confirmed governmentâ€™s commitment to implement IPS policy.
Mwanza also said IPS policy will bear positive impacts onÂ Â farmersâ€™ productivity, returns and livelihoods.
JTI-sponsored Savala praised JTI for supporting her through the provision of access to loan financing for improved fertiliser, other farm inputs, forestry materials and agronomic advice.