Almost two weeks after launching a process to review representation of tobacco growers at the Auction Floors, the Tobacco Commission has finally announced that growers will be responsible for choosing representatives from their zones. 

Chief Executive Officer for Tobacco Commission, Kayisi Sadala, made the announcement in Mzuzu on Friday.

“This move demonstrates the Government’s willingness to listen to genuine concerns from tobacco growers despite the tough conditions under Covid-19,” Sadala said.

Until now, the only grower representatives allowed at the floors were those picked by the Tobacco Growers Associations. 

TC CEO Kayisi Sadala addressing the media

But Government has now heeded to the growers’ call for the growers to play a direct role in choosing who should be at the floors on their behalf.

The move is aimed at promoting transparency and accountability in tobacco sales to assure the growers that there are no underhand dealings during the sale of the their tobacco as some may have suspected.

At the start of the tobacco marketing season, the Commission restricted the representation of the growers at the auction floors to reduce congestion in response to coronavirus pandemic.

“The existing representation was coming from the Tobacco Growers Associations which the growers felt wasn’t enough, hence their request for consideration,” Sadala said. 

With the review of the procedure, it means growers have more say now.

“The zonal representatives will be picked by the growers themselves while those from the associations will continue playing their monitoring role as has been the case,” Sadala explained. 

In a  statement dated 12 June 2020 signed by Sadala, the Tobacco Commission says the move caters for both commercial and smallholder growers.

However, the Commission has underlined that its response to coronavirus will not be compromised.

Both the commercial and smallholder growers representatives shall be required to comply with measures laid down to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In April, President Peter  Mutharika announced a raft of economic measures for the country to contend with the impact of coronavirus. 

Among the measures, he directed the Ministry of Agriculture to make sure that Auction Holdings Limited functions normally “to operate the tobacco marketing season and protect tobacco farmers.”