The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) launched its 2018 Tobacco Growers Outreach Programme at Mayaka Catholic Parish Hall in Zomba on Saturday, 26th May 2018. Presiding over the ceremony was the Controller of Agriculture Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Water Development, Dr Alexander Bulirani.
Controller of Agriculture Services, Dr. Alexander Bulirani officially opening the outreach programme
Also present were the Chairman of TCC Board of Directors, the representatives from tobacco buying companies, grower associations, the market provider (Auction Holdings Group) and Agriculture Research & Extension Trust (ARET).
The aim of the outreach programme is to provide interface platform between the growers and TCC where the latter will update the farmers on developments in the tobacco sector while getting growers’ feedback on experiences and challenges being faced.
During the ceremony the Ministry assured the tobacco growers of the Ministry’s commitment to uplift the welfare of farmers through various reforms. Of critical importance is the Tobacco Bill which, according to the Ministry, has been approved by Cabinet and is being prepared to be presented at the current seating of Parliament for deliberation. This will be a big milestone as the revised act will address the existing challenges while aligning the industry to global tobacco sector emerging issues. Another key area announced was Government’s stand to accede to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control WHO –FCTC), a treaty that is advancing health risks of tobacco smoking. According to the Ministry, being part of the treaty benefits Malawi more as Malawi will join the rest of tobacco dependent countries in preserving and defending their cause from within but also benefiting from the diversification agenda.
Speaking at the same function was the Chairman of TCC Board of Directors, Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V, who urged farmers to produce quality tobacco that will attract competitive prices. He noted that, it is disheartening that some farmers indulge themselves in Non-Tobacco Related Material (NTRM) which, not only erodes buyer confidence but also put Malawi’s competitiveness at check at global level as it is demeaned non-compliant. He, therefore, urged farmers to desist from the malpractice. He also urged farmers to only sell their crop through the licensed markets.
Inkosi Ya Makosi M’mbelwa v addressing the farmers during the launch
Being interactive session, farmers were accorded an opportunity to ask questions to all players present. The concerned institutions responded accordingly.
A cross section of the farmers during the launch
The programme will be scaled down to all divisional offices beginning 28th May 2018. Farmers were urged to follow the schedules for each division as announced by TCC.