Malawi minister lambasts tobacco buyers; ‘You are stealing from poor farmers’

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Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe

LILONGWE (MalawiTalk) – Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has taken a swipe at tobacco buyers, accusing them of offering low prices to farmers over the years, leaving the farmers destitute.

The minister was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with nine tobacco buyers for the 2021 tobacco season.

Lowe said tobacco farming venture is “no longer appetizing” and most farmers have abandoned the crop.

He added this year alone, the country is expected to produce 122 million kilograms of tobacco yet tobacco buyers are demanding 132 million kilograms as their 2021 trade requirement.

The minister noted such a mismatch is indicative of growing frustrations by growers who are exiting the industry to look for other alternative sources of livelihood.

Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe

He says it is evident on the ground that the lifestyle of tobacco buyers, cigarette manufacturers and other players in the tobacco value chain is far much ahead of the lifestyle of a main producer of the leaf.

Lowe recalled that in one past season, tobacco prices once peaked to a record-high $11 per kilogram (about K8,470 based on the current exchange rate) but complained that such prices are unseen on the market in recent years, pleading with the buyers to offer higher prices during the 2021 tobacco selling season which will open next month.

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