Speaking during launch of sensitization campaign on non-tobacco related material in tobacco bales in Rumphi district, Regional Extension Officer for ARET in the North, Kad Phiri said the call is part of their continued effort to smoothen this year’s tobacco marketing season.
Phiri said, non-tobacco related materials are a hazard to tobacco industry in the country as they does not only affect the sale of the crop but also farmers earn less.
“There are several reasons non tobacco related material find themselves in tobacco bales; some accidentally while others such as sand, stones, metal bars are undeniably put there deliberately,” noted Phiri.
Additionally, Phiri said in a long term the continued inclusion of such materials may lead to the International Tobacco Commission issuing a ban of any tobacco trade in the country thereby hitting hard on the economy of the country.
“As you may be aware, a huge percentage of our foreign exchange emanates from tobacco production, and any mishandling of the crop may bring unfavorable consequences to the nation,” said Phiri.
Crops officer for Mzuzu ADD, Mduli Chirwa said the campaign will necessitate farmers to follow right procedures when preparing their crop for sale to avoid inconveniences during the process.
Chirwa said “this is a timely caution if our farmers are to benefit and of course continue enjoying the fruits of tobacco industry,” observed Chirwa.
Local leaders are not left out in the campaign as they act as community watchdogs for the loop holes in the grading and packaging system of the crop.
The event which is funded by the Tobacco Control Commission further looks up to harmonize the tobacco selling season which has for the past years been labeled with issues of high rejection rates, among other things that somehow force farmers reap minute from their hard earned crop.
It is also expected that the campaign will revitalize marketing of the tobacco which has been at the verge of collapse due to poor practices by farmers.
Meanwhile the Malawi 2016 Tobacco Selling Season has started with Lilongwe Auction Floors, Limbe Auction Floors will be next before Mzuzu Auction Floors expected to start on 20th April.