Plans are underway by Malawi’s largest tobacco growers’ body, the Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), to engage in the export of tobacco belonging to its members.
This follows the association’s recent acquisition of equity in a processing plant, Kanengo Tobacco Processors Limited (KTPL), which is now a 100 percent subsidiary of Premium Tama Tobacco Limited.
Currently, Malawi’s tobacco is primarily exported by tobacco merchants who own processing plants such as Limbe Leaf, Alliance One, Japanese Tobacco International and Malawi Leaf.
“Now that we have ownership of a processing facility, this is a gateway to process tobacco belonging to our farmers and we want to leverage that into the actual exportation of tobacco,” said Tama acting chief executive officer Graham Kunimba in an interview on Sunday.
He said in March this year, the association sent a concept paper on exports markets to government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to ensure that their dream to start exporting materialises.
Kunimba said Tama wants to empower and uplift its tobacco growers as primary producers to the next level of the tobacco value chain.
He stated that the association believes it is important to integrate tobacco growers to the international markets through value-addition.
“The idea is to link our farmers to the export market. At the moment, whatever is going to tobacco growers is at primary level and not secondary level through value-addition,” said Kunimba.
He also said by venturing into tobacco exportation, Tama would support government policy to ensure that the rural masses are integrated into the higher value chain where primary products are processed for value-addition.
Kunimba said the venture will help Malawi retain foreign currency since the direct exports will help generate increased foreign exchange cash.