Parliament passes Tobacco Bill

Malawi Parliament yesterday passed the Tobacco Industry Bill.

Among other things, the legislation outlaws buyers from growing tobacco or engaging in the transportation and grading of tobacco and seeks to strengthen tobacco associations by increasing membership from 3000 to 5000.

Speaking after the bill was passed, Minister of Agriculture Joseph Mwanamvekha said the new law means farmers will no longer be ripped off by buyers and will bring sanity in the tobacco industry.

“In the past, the farmer was ripped off. The farmer signed the contract without knowing the prices he would be offered,” he said.

The minister also claimed that the law will help reduce poverty as farmers will earn more income.

On his part, Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee Maxwell Thyolera also lauded the new law.

Last week, Member of Parliament for Karonga North Frank Mwenefumbo opposed the Tobacco Industry Bill saying it will only benefit companies

Mwenefumbo who is a member of Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) said people in his constituency are against the bill as the farmers are aware that the bill will only favour the tobacco companies rather than the farmers.

“Let us put our farmers first and the rest should come second, farmers are the ones who put much effort and money in tobacco business but what do they gain at the end of the day peanuts which is not fair to our farmers.

“These companies are making a lot of profits from our farmers’ sweat, farmers should therefore have all the powers and the companies should surrender their licences to our farmers   otherwise this bill is no of use,” Mwenefumbo said.