By Bethsaida Msukwa:
Tobacco market operator, AHL Group has urged tobacco farmers in the country to consider diversified production as a remedy to possible shocks brought by the growing global anti-smoking lobby.
Speaking during a field meeting at Mhuju in Rumphi District on Tuesday, Mzuzu Auction Floors Manager, Happy Chifungwe said this year’s tobacco season was marred by low prices and high rejection rate.
Chifungwe attributed this to pressure from the World Health Organisation for countries to ban tobacco smoking.
“With the anti-smoking lobby impelled by fears over the health risks, we are urging farmers to start growing different crops apart from tobacco so that when the prices of the leaf go down, Farmers can have relief in selling other food crops at a fair price,” he said.
Chifungwe then assured the farmers for a stable produce market at AHL Commodities Exchange, a subsidiary of AHL Group.
He then encouraged farmers to join cooperatives in order to have easy access to the market.
One of the farmers, Petros Mhango, thanked the firm for assurance of a stable market of other commodities.
“In the past, many farmers here in Mhuju lacked proper market to sell their produce but with the sensitisation from AHL, we are very happy that our produce will be bought at fair prices,” Mhango said.
Senior Chief Mwahenga rated the assurance from the group as a game-changer.
“We are ready to diversify production with the hope that our lives will improve. We thank AHL Group for sensitising the farmers on how the market went during the previous season and some new developments the company has embarked on,” Mwahenga said.
The 2019 Tobacco season ended on September 17 with the closing average price of $1.43 per kg while in 2018 it was at $ 1.68 per kg.
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