Farmer's Voice

The Minister of Agriculture in Malawi declares support to the tobacco Industry until alternatives are found

At a meeting on July 20th in Lilongwe, Malawi, attended by diplomats and representatives from companies including Alliance One, Universal Leaf, Limbe Leaf, and Philip Morris International, Malawi's Minister of Agriculture and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said the country will continue to support the tobacco industry, which is reported to be the country's second largest employer after the government, until alternative cash crops are found. Chiyembekeza said the tobacco crop plays a vital role in the development of countries like Malawi, as it generates 60% of its foreign earnings. Leaf-producing countries in Africa are aware of the effects of tobacco use on human health, but "tobacco is not alone in causing diseases" as other habits like drinking and eating an unhealthy diet also causes harm, he said. He called on other countries in southern Africa to help protect the tobacco crop. Malawi's draft economic growth strategy proposes a diversified agricultural sector whereby tobacco will be replaced by crops like cassava and cotton, while greater emphasis would be placed on tourism, mining and manufacturing (Nyasa Times 7/21).