One of the country’s tobacco buying company JTI Malawi is describing tobacco farmers as integral to the development of the country.
Corporate affairs director for JTI Limbani Kakhome made the sentiments during the awarding of best performing farmers during the just ended tobacco season.
The company has awarded over 300 farmer clubs translating to over 1,000 famers from different Districts across the nation in what is dubbed Mlimi Ozitsata Awards.
Among others, they have been given metallic hand held oxcarts, bicycles and solar lamps.
According to Kakhome his company values the contributions tobacco farmers bring to the country’s economy.
“As a company we have been doing this over the years to recognise famers that have done way above the expected standards as far as tobacco farming and related processes are concerned,” said Kakhome.
However, Kakhome was coy to reveal how much the company has invested in this year’s famer awards.
He said: “It’s quiet a considerable amount of money pumped into this but we tend to look at the benefit that will come out of this and not the other way round.”
One of the awardees Gideon Kachitenji from Chigonthi EPA in the area of Traditional Authority Chitukula could not hide his excitement for being one of the lucky farmers.
“I am very happy for being one of those to that has been awarded, the hand held oxcart will help me in hauling tobacco leaves from the farm which has been a big challenge recently,” said Kachitenji.
Among the quality drives that are looked at in identifying the awardees are volumes and crop throw as well as quality of tobacco in terms of grading.