Implementation of the Integrated Production System (IPS), widely known as contract system of growing tobacco, could be dealt a severe blow as draft amendments to the Tobacco Industry Act have stalled, The Nation has learnt.
Malawi Government introduced IPS policy last May.
However, draft amendments to the Tobacco Industry Act meant to provide an enabling regulatory framework for contract farming’s full roll-out have stalled, according to Japan Tobacco International (JTI) managing director Neville Young.
Young made the revelation in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe on Thursday on the sidelines of a hand-over ceremony of classroom blocks, toilets, desks and a borehole to three primary schools in Lilongwe rural.
He warned: “The situation [stalling of adopting the draft amendments to the Act] is creating uncertainty for farmers and buyers alike as it threatens effective implementation of IPS.”
IPS, which was approved by President Joyce Banda last year, is an initiative in which tobacco buyers combine farming and marketing strategies by dealing directly with farmers in producing the leaf.
The system has started being implemented from the 2012/13 tobacco growing season and allows the traditional auction floors only handling 20 percent of the total volume of tobacco produced, estimated at 156 million kilogrammes, according to the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC).
Young said since 2009, the company has been implementing a Facilitated Farming Scheme (FFS) which he said is designed to contribute to the sustainability of Malawi’s tobacco industry and fits well in the IPS as farmers also get access to farm inputs and extension services.
TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali confirmed about the slow progress on the review of the Act but said TCC expects a final stakeholders’ meet on the same.
Said Munthali: “We share the same sentiments but everything is in the hands of government now. Very soon, the Ministry of Agriculture should initiate a final consultative process before the Act will be in place.”
A week ago, president for the Central Region Tobacco Growers Association (CRTGA), Ernest Chadzunda, also appealed to government to make IPS legal by formulating what could be called IPS Act.