By Brown Mdalla
The Tobacco Commission (TC) has advised tobacco growers in the country to give adequate care to their crop to reduce post- harvest losses saying most local farmers do not adequately benefit from their yields as about half of it is lost before it is sold.
TC CEO Joseph Chidanti Malunga says in a Press Statement that tobacco farmers should ensure appropriate harvesting time and set up good storage facilities to avoid post-harvest losses.
He also advises tobacco growers to avoid engaging minors in their activities, the conduct he described as illegal.
“During these operations growers should not use children under the age of 18 years, for this conduct is against the rights of children. Growers who will be noticed using child labour, will have their licenses revoked and their tobacco will not be receipted at the auction floors,” warns Malunga in the statement.
TC also advises tobacco growers to sell their leaf at the Auction Floors other than to vendors in order to benefit from better market prices.
The Ministry of Agriculture has repeatedly complained over the increase in the number of illegal tobacco vendors who buy the leaf from farmers at lower prices to sell to the Auction Floors.
The Commission stresses in the statement to the general public and tobacco growers that tobacco vending is an offence under Tobacco Industry Act, and anyone caught in the act will be convicted by the court of law.
“The Commission reminds the general public and tobacco growers that tobacco vending is an offence under the Tobacco Industry Act and any person involved in the practice will be convicted by the court of law,” states Malunga..
Government through the Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) has provided Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) with financial resources to ensure smooth running of operations at all the four AHL deports.
“In this regard, tobacco growers are being assured that all AHL Tobacco Auction Floors of Limbe, Lilongwe, Chinkhoma in Kasungu and Mzuzu will operate normally without threat that the industry remittances would be affected as AHL Group facilities are duly secured by AHL Group and Government,” says Malunga.
Malunga recently told Mining and Trade Review that the Commission will ensure that tobacco farmers are offered better prices for their leaf this season.