Lowe Wants Tobacco Farmers to Earn More
The Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe, says his goal this season is to ensure that farmers benefit fully from their tobacco sales, unlike in the past when they would incur losses as most of their profits were channeled to repayment of loans.
He says the ministry is intensifying adherence to Section 10 of the Tobacco Industry Act of 2019 which entails that buyers give loans to farmers for tobacco inputs only, and not any other other crops.
Lowe says most farmers were incurring losses after repaying loans they got from buyers after selling their tobacco hence making zero profits on their labor.
He says the ministry has noted that most farmers after getting the loans they purchase inputs for other crops like beans, soya and maize and not tobacco, an issue which negatively affects their tobacco profits.
Said Lowe, "We want to make sure that at the end of the day, there is money in the pocket of farmers. Take home money is what is needed. Previously, they were just deducted all of it with nothing to take home."
The minister was speaking when he monitored the 2022/2023 tobacco registration process in Mzuzu where so far, a target of 30 million kilograms out of the targeted 140 million kilograms has been registered.
Chief Executive Officer for Tobacco Control Commission Joseph Chidanti Malunga says the commission is committed to reach registration targets hence the process started in June and will end in September
“It starts slow. That is the reason why at the beginning we don't have the buyers assigned the kilograms or volumes to the buyers yet get. At the beginning we were just doing all those growers that do [sell] on auction. As we speak pretty, most of the buyers have submitted their requirements," said Malunga.
One of the tobacco farmers, Mcdavin Mhone, who is also Chairperson for Kapandajani Club, says they have welcomed the idea as it is meant to benefit them.