President Lazarus Chakwera says tobacco is a dying crop hence, Malawi needs to come up with an exit strategy by promoting alternative crops.
He was speaking during the official opening of the 2021 tobacco marketing season at the Lilongwe selling floors.
He said the exit strategy be crafted to transition farmers to crops that are more sustainable and more profitable.
“I am therefore, calling on the Minister of Agriculture to begin consultations with all stakeholders and come up with the
timeframe within which Malawi’s economy will be completely weaned off tobacco and a strategy for preparing our farmers for a more prosperous future built on other commercial crops that are more profitable and sustainable”.
Chakwera said the demand for tobacco is globally dwindling due to the anti-smoking lobby championed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) hence, Malawi should accept the reality and explore alternatives to tobacco.
On prices, Chakwera said though he was satisfied with adherence to minimum prices, he hoped buyers would offer better prices above minimum prices because the leaf quality is high.
Tobacco Commission board chairperson, Harry Mkandawire and Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe, also challenged buyers to do better on prices given better leaf offering by growers.
Growers at the auction expressed displeasure with the proceedings of the first day.
On the auction floors, the highest price was $1.50 (about MK1185) with the lowest being $0.90 (about MK711) per kilogramme. Flu cured tobacco fetched $3 (about MK2370) as the highest price with the lowest being $1.25 (about MK987.50). On the contract side, the highest price per kilogramme was $2.20 (about MK1738) with the lowest being $1.10 per kg (about MK869).
The market was also characterised by high rejection rate to the dismay of growers.