Malawi government has said the new burley tobacco hybrids the Agriculture Research and Extension Trust (Aret) is developing at Kandiya Tobacco Research Station in Lilongwe will help revolutionise tobacco farming and improve the income of smallholder farmers.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Binton Kutsaira said this in the district on Thursday during a tobacco field day organised by Aret.
Said Kutsaira: “We have been shown that we can grow our own locally developed burley tobacco hybrids which are high yielding and also with good disease resistance abilities than the old ones. Farmers will now be able to produce more and earn more.”
He said tobacco remains the country’s number one earner of foreign exchange; hence, there is need to search for a win-win partnership between government and tobacco companies.
“Tobacco remains a strategic crop for this country. It still generates more foreign exchange than any other enterprise at the moment. With the suspension of Kayerekera Uranium Mine, it leaves us with no option but to continue growing the crop to support our country’s socio-economic growth and development,” said Kutsaira.
Aret’s Andy Khumbanyiwa said the introduction of the new breeds will improve the economic lives of farmers and help government reduce the import of large quantities of tobacco seeds, thereby saving foreign exchange.
Aret in partnership with Bio Energy Resource Limited is in the final year of experimenting with ABH 12, 31 and 43 tobacco varieties.
The event was attended by farmers and buyers.