Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Peter Mwanza has described the recent postponement of the adoption of proposals to ban tobacco production by the World Health Organisationâ€™s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) as good news for the Malawi tobacco industry.
Mwanza expressed his excitement in an interview with Business News during a tour of a tobacco farm owned by a farmer, Violet Savala, in Lilongwe.
â€œI am pleased that the Malawi team that attended the meeting joined others to protest the measures to the extent that the meeting postponed the ban on tobacco growing,â€ said the minister.
FCTC is the brainchild of the WHO specifically detailed to handle anti-tobacco issues and its treaty carries a whole range of articles which wants to reduce tobacco smoking worldwide.
For example, articles 17 and 18 discourage governments and institutions from financing and promoting tobacco growing as well as supporting any tobacco incentive programme.
The fifth Conference of Parties (Cop-5) held in South Korea two weeks ago agreed to postpone the implementation of FCTC Articles 17 and 18 and that the articles will be looked at again at the next conference slated for Moscow, Russia in 2014.
â€œThis [the postponement] is a good news to the Malawi tobacco industry in general,â€ said Mwanza.
In a separate interview on Friday, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president Reuben Maigwa, who was among the Malawi delegation at the South Korea meet, also described the outcome of the meeting as a relief for tobacco growers, claiming the threats from FCTC articles are slowly losing salt.
According to a statement made by Malawi at the meeting, the implementation of Articles 17 and 18 would affect over 1.5 million Malawians who directly or indirectly depend on tobacco.
According to the statement, read by the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Dr. Bruce Munthali, Malawi supported the position of the European Union, Afro regions, Brazil and China and other speakers regarding the need to renew the mandate of the working group on Articles 17 and 18.
â€œDiversification from tobacco as of now has had a limited success due to problems relating to access to inputs, technologies and markets.