Tobacco growers in the country have been asked to mobilise themselves into cooperatives so that they have a bargaining power on prices for their produce.
Principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Grey Nyandule Phiri made the call on Saturday during the official opening of the 2017 World Tobacco Growers’s Day
Commemorations at Mzuzu Stadium.
He said the availability of cooperatives among tobacco growers in other countries has proven to be successful, hence the need for growers in the country to follow suit.
Phiri emphasised that with cooperatives, it will also be easy for tobacco farmers to access bank loans.
“We believe that by having cooperatives, our tobacco farmers can have access to proper markets and bank loans. The tobacco value needs to be complemented. The ministry encourages all farmers to practice crop diversification in the wake of global challenges,” he said.
The principal secretary also asked tobacco farmers to produce according to market demands. The current demand for tobacco is 160 million kilogrammes.
Speaking earlier, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president Abiel Banda, who is also vice-president of the global International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA), asked government to support tobacco farming.
On his part, tobacco lead farmer Lucky Chirambo from Rumphi said they are already engaged in the production of other crops but are discouraged by low prices after harvest. n