JTI Malawi has thrown its weight behind contract farming or Integrated Production System (IPS) of growing tobacco, saying it will continue to engage its contracted growers to ensure sustainable and quality tobacco production.
An official from JTI, one of the tobacco buying and processing companies, said this on Wednesday in Zomba during a one-year contract signing ceremony with burley tobacco growers.
JTI Malawi agricultural adviser Jones Thombozi said just like every other year, the company holds talks with farmers to explain what is expected of them; hence, the meeting to share notes and reiterate its commitment to the farmers.
“One of the most important things is our collective responsibilities. Responsibility of the farmer to ensure they supply crop that is desired to JTI and also on side as JTI, our obligations is to buy the required volumes and support them with extension services.
He said the exercise which has started with the Southern Region districts will go on to other 17 districts where the firm has contracted growers.
Three weeks ago, JTI Malawi courted controversy when it stopped buying tobacco from its contracted farmers after reportedly meeting its quota.
But after negotiations with tobacco stakeholders including Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) and Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha, the firm bought 49 000 kilogrammes more.
JTI communications and corporate affairs director Limbani Kakhome said in Mzuzu last week at the end of its 2018 buying season that they have bought 1.2 million kilogrammes more than what they planned.
Tobacco grower, Duncan Nathaya who is chairperson of Makina Club said expectations are high for a good season having signed the contracts which he claimed are transparent in terms of what they will benefit.
“We are looking forward to a good season. The contract is well explained. We, therefore, believe that following what is spelled out in the contract, the coming season will be good,” he said.
On his part Central Region Tobacco Growers Association supervisor Andrew Phiri said they will continue to lobby for a fair and smooth working relationship between growers and buyers to ensure all commitments are adhered to.