HomeNational NewsBusiness and FinanceWork hard in fields or forget about economic growth, Chakwera tells Malawians

Work hard in fields or forget about economic growth, Chakwera tells Malawians

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Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Wednesday officially opened the 2023 Tobacco Marketing Season with a call to Malawians to start working hard in their fields or forget about growing their economy.

Chakwera warned that the country risks remaining in the doldrums of abject poverty unless Malawians start weaning themselves from donor dependence and a notion that the government holds a key to every economic problem facing the nation.

“Some people in government and many people outside government behave and talk as though government itself is the solution to Malawi’s economic sickness, but that is simply not the case. Government is a supporting structure for activating the solution to our economic sickness, but it is not the solution itself,” he said.

President Lazarus Chakwera checking the tags of the leaf at the Auction Floor in Lilongwe-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

The Malawi said there is a need for Malawians to increase agricultural productivity in order to generate enough revenue for developing the country.

“We need to increase the quantity, the variety, and the quality of what we produce as a country to competitively generate revenue from global markets. It is that simple. Now to increase the quantity, the variety, and the quality of what we produce as a country, we have to do the work. No one is going to do that work for us. And as I have stated previously, the primary and priority sectors in which we must work harder, smarter, and together to increase productivity are agriculture, tourism, and mining. This is what I have referred to as our ATM strategy, and it is absolutely critical that everyone of us consider how to support these three sectors to increase the quality, the variety, and the quantity of products to generate the forex revenue that our country needs for its development,” stressed Chakwera.

The opening of the tobacco-selling season automatically brings a flicker of hope to the country as expectations are high that the market will ease the shortage of foreign exchange currency in the economy thereby soothing the importation of strategic commodities such as fuel and pharmaceuticals.

However, President Chakwera was quick to warn that forex availability will remain volatile for as long as Malawians do not tame their appetite for imported good, products and services.

He observed that almost every Malawian is contributing to forex shortage despite politicians and large-scale businesspeople carrying the blame.

“When we talk about forex revenue, none of us should pretend or imagine that we do not need it. If you are wearing imported clothes today, then you have used the country’s forex. If you came here in an imported car, then you have used the country’s forex. If that car has used imported fuel, then you have used the country’s forex. If you have eaten any imported foods this week, then you have used the country’s forex.

Msaiwale Zakaria a Tobacco farmer interacts with President Lazarus Chakwera during the Auction of Tobacco in Lilongwe-pic by Lisa Kadango Malango

“If you travel outside Malawi, you use the country’s forex. If you use imported chemicals in your hair or imported products for your hygiene, you use the country’s forex. If you go to the hospital or pharmacy to get imported medicines, then you use the country’s forex. The list of things in our lives that require the consumption of forex is endless, and so there is no question that we are a nation of forex consumers. But that is not really the problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry regulator, Tobacco Commission (TC) says about 20,000 bales of tobacco have been availed at the floors, with an estimated 2600 expected to be sold today.

Malawian tobacco farmers are expected to enjoy good prices that will fetch the leaf this year as ten tobacco-buying companies are set to compete to purchase an estimated output of 126 million kilograms.

Such a volume is deemed by the tobacco industry as an underproduction owing to several external shocks including the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy, which washed away many tobacco fields.

A random visit inside the floors shows that some bales are fetching a record high of US$2.40 (about MK3,600) per kilogram on auction marketing which has already sent farmers smiling ear to ear.

Chinkhoma, Limbe, and Mzuzu Auction Floors are also scheduled to open 13th, 17th of April, and 2nd of May, respectively.

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