The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has told the Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) to diversify into the other crops.
TAMA is an association of farmers who mainly grow tobacco.
On Tuesday, the association held its 31st Congress at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development Grey Nyandule Phiri noted that TAMA is known for tobacco production and marketing but he called for the association to look at diversification very seriously.
Phiri then said that the government is aware that growers are still waiting for the proposed Cooperative Bank saying it is drawing interest not only from the growers but buyers as well because the contract marketing has a loan component that can be served from that bank.
The principal secretary commended TAMA for attaining 90 years of operations saying this shows that the association has contributed to the economic development of this country.
On his part, TAMA president Abel Masache Kalima thanked government for the removal of tax from the first ten bales of the smallholder farmers during the recent tobacco marketing season.
He added that the opening of this year’s Tobacco market by President Peter Mutharika and Tanzania President John Magufuli motivated stakeholders and tobacco merchants were urged to pay good prices for the leaf.
According to Kalima, TAMA has developed a five-year strategic plan starting from this year as it plans to look for additional avenues in other business value chains that would assist farmers.
Banda hailed the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for supporting the association and Parliament for passing review to the Tobacco Act.