Regulatory frame work urged to protect tobacco farmers

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:39:42 +0000

 

By MUKOSELA KASALWE in Chipata

 A ROBUST regulatory data base on tobacco will ensure that Government collects enough revenue that will contribute significantly to the country’s gross domestic product, says Japan Tobacco International corporate affairs manager Litiya Matakala.

Mr. Matakala said that JTI was committed to working with the Government to address issues affecting the tobacco industry in the country. He said this yesterday in Chipata at a media orientation workshop that the long-term goal of the tobacco company was to ensure it supported the establishment of a transparent market structure and regulatory environment that would ensure the interests of growers, buyers and Government were protected and guaranteed.

Mr. Matakala said that there was need for a clear policy direction which would not contract itself based on health concerns and agriculture as a source of income and livelihood for the community. “JTI is committed to working with the Government in order to address issues affecting the tobacco industry in Zambia. Our long-term goal is to support the establishment of a transparent market structure and regulatory environment that will ensure interests of growers, buyers and Government are protected and guaranteed,” he said.

He said that the quoting of payment in the US dollar currency for contracted farmers and the outgrower scheme was in their best interest, saying they would not be adversely hit by the changing economic dynamics of the exchange rate.

Mr. Matakala said that JTI had intensified a programme to give its contracted farmers certified seeds, saying it would help them have better as well as quality yields which in turn would maximise their profits.

Mr. Matakala disputed assertions that JTI was enticing farmers to grow tobacco in preference of other crops, saying it was a business and that the tobacco firm was actually encouraging farmers not to only grow cash crops but food crops too.

He said farmers supported through loans were being deceived to sell their produce by briefcase traders even before the market was open and called on the Tobacco Board of Zambia to put in place stringent measures to curtail the racket of tobacco being sold to foreign middlemen as Government was losing revenue through unaccounted exports.

Mr. Matakala said that JTI has for the 2017/18 projected to grow a volume of 5,600,000 tobacco leaf and to contact more than 35,000 farmers.

 

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