Local tobacco growers have been asked to form cooperatives if are to have bargaining powers on pricing.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary, Grey Nyandule Phiri made the call last weekend in Mzuzu during official opening of the 2017 World Tobacco Growers’ Day Commemorations.
Nyandule Phiri said with cooperatives, it will be easy for tobacco farmers to access loans from commercial banks, adding the availability of cooperatives among tobacco growers in other countries has proven to be successful.
“We believe that by having many cooperatives among our tobacco farmers, it can lead to the creation of proper markets and easy access to bank loans. The tobacco value needs to be complimented. The ministry encourages all farmers to practice crop diversification in the wake of the global [anti-smoking] challenge,” he said.
Phiri also asked tobacco growers to produce according to international trade requirements.
The current demand for tobacco this year is at 160 million kilogrammes, according to Tobacco Control Commission (TCC).
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president, Abiel Banda, who is also vice-president of International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) asked government to continue with its strong support to tobacco farming.NE