President Lazarus Macathy Chakwera has described tobacco farmers as the number one foreign exchange (forex) producers in Malawi.
Chakwera made the remarks on Wednesday when he presided over the official opening of the 2023 Tobacco Marketing season at Kanengo, Lilongwe.
“If all tobacco farmers stopped producing today, the economy would collapse,” he said
Chakwera said something must be done to support tobacco farming to increase its productivity because whether anyone likes it or not tobacco farmers are the ones keeping the economy on its feet while giving access to all goods and services.
President Chakwera called upon stakeholders to support tobacco farmers whose products sustain the country’s economy saying that support includes buying tobacco at fair prices because buying them at unfair price does harm to the economy.
Buying tobacco at decent prices motivates and empowers tobacco growers to continue increasing the quality of their products, additionally, he observed, buying tobacco at fair prices encourages others to venture into farming as a productive and prosperous vocation especially young people whom are needed in the sector.
President Chakwera commended the Tobacco Commission (TC) for its ambitious goal of increasing annual tobacco production to atleast 200 million kilograms.
He said one way of attaining that is adopting mega farms strategy that his administration is championing.
The President said government will support the plans the Commission has put in place to initiate and promote the use of irrigation technology in tobacco farming.
TC Board Chairperson, Commissioner Dr Godfrey Chapola said for the past years, the country’s tobacco production remained below 125 millon kilograms.
“We envision that by 2028, we will have gotten to an annual production of 200million kilograms,” he said.
Chapola said that one of their flagship initiatives to help them get to the high production levels is the introduction and promotion of irrigation tobacco farming.
Irrigation farming is one of the critical features in the agenda 2063 adding that it means the industry is assured of full support in the new direction.