Tobacco is often called Malawi’s economic mainstay, but growers of the leaf have for ages cried foul due to many charges they have to pay, dubious contracts they have entered into with some buying companies and low prices offered at the auction floors.
Speaking after the bill was passed, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha said the bill empowers the regulator Tobacco Control Commission-TCC to thoroughly vet all contracts between farmers and companies before they come into effect, so that farmers should no longer feel exploited.
“The bill passed in the House, will help transform the tobacco industry, after years of many irregularities from contracts and pricing. In the past farmers have been complaining of being reaped off," said the Minister.
He added: “For instance when signing contracts, like contract farming, the farmer would sign the contract without knowing the terms of the contract. With this bill the farmer will know in advance, the cost of all the inputs.”
According to Mwanamvekha, the bill also emphasizes the separation between growers and buyers, saying buyers should not get involved in the production of tobacco.
The passing of the bill means the bill Tobacco Control Commission TCC has been fully authorized to take charge of affairs in the tobacco industry.
The tobacco act which Malawi uses was enacted many years ago and was deemed by experts, as too old to meet the dynamics and demands of modern day tobacco industry.
Through their contributions since last week, MPs from both sides of the isle have applauded government for coming up with the bill.