Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), the largest grouping of tobacco growers, has rebranded into Tama Farmers Trust, taking on board other crop value chains in the process
The rebranding exercise follows the association’s 2019 Annual Congress which ratified that the institution be rebranded in the wake of the slowdown in the global tobacco consumption, among others.
Speaking during the rebranding event in Lilongwe, Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer (CEO)Felix Thole explained that by rebranding, it means the 90-year- old association is now open to any other crop besides tobacco.
“Any farmer of any value chain can now be our member. We want to give attention to other value chains apart from tobacco. We will now diversify crop production and marketing to ensure that farmers sustain themselves economically,” he said.
Thole said that over the years, their cooperatives across the country, totalling 49 have remained dormant due to lack of capacity building, but
due to the rebranding, all the cooperatives are set to be revamped.
He said the decision to diversify will help sustain the welfare of its members amid unreliable markets for tobacco, which is touted to bring in about 60 percent of foreign exchange earnings and continues to dominate the export revenue basket for Malawi.
The crop contributes about 13 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and the tobacco sector alone employs millions of people directly and indirectly.
However, tobacco is also currently facing unprecedented global decline due to unrelenting anti-tobacco smoking lobby being championed by the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobaco Control (WHO-FCTC) guidelines.
On his part, Tobacco Commission CEO Kayisi Sadala commended Tama for rebranding, saying apart from improving the welfare of tobacco farmers, the development is also in line with government’s policy of diversification.
“If we are to remain relevant, we have to move with time. But you should not rebrand away from tobacco, but diversify alongside tobacco.
“The commission will promote tobacco until a last smoker dies. My appeal to you is that rebranding on its own is nothing and will be a mere talk if you will have nothing on the ground; hence, you have to walk the talk,” he said.
Tama Farmers Trust president Abiel Masache Kalima Banda said with the rebranding, the organisation’s logo, website and constitution will also change.
He said the entity will also continue to be a focal in representative body of tobacco growers.
Currently, Malawi, through Banda, is the new president of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA), a grouping of international tobacco associations that defends tobacco growers’ interests at global level.
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