President Lazarus Chakwera has opened this year’s tobacco marketing season with a warning to stakeholders over unapproved charges to farmers.
Speaking at Kanengo Auction Floors in Lilongwe, Chakwera said all tobacco levies are supposed to be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“As a starting pointy want a permanent solution of the malpractice by some stakeholders of charging farmers dubious levies that have not been approved by the ministry of Agriculture, this must stop,” the president emphasized.
The President has since called for sanity on the same if the green leaf is to be more beneficial to the country.
“Any senseless levies imposed on the farmers increase their cost of production and decrease their farmers’ return, an a tobacco industry in which every player can milk the system and boost profits at the expense of the farmers, is not something that I can tolerate,” stressed Chakwera.
Echoing the President’s plea on the welfare of farmers, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has stressed that buyers should not peg the price so low or just around a possible minimum price, but offer higher prices where the leaf is of high quality.
This he argues would ensure that the farmers are getting good earning from the hard work put in the production of the tobacco.
Speaking after inspecting the auction floors, Chakwera expressed pleasure with the 2 dollar 35 cents price that he saw.
On her part, AHL Group Chairperson, Dhlesile Matondo Phiri expressed hope that farmers may afford a smile this year.
This year’s market has been opened under the theme; Smallholder Grower: The Pillar of the Tobacco Industry.