Though the Anti-Smoking campaign has been touted so much over the years by the World Health Organization (WHO), health rights and other human rights activists it seems that Malawi and other countries have turned a blind ear to the calls and have since continued growing the crop.
Of late, the (WHO) has also issued a warning against the growing of tobacco on grounds that it poses a threat to people’s health, a decision which Malawi and other countries that rely on tobacco are against with. You can read the full warning here
This is not the first time for (WHO) to issue that warning as it also did that before, Malawi and other countries as it was the case before continues to resist the (WHO) warning. This is because that Malawi has not identified a crop that can replace tobacco as a backbone for its economy as of to date.
Sadly, this is happening at a time when most farmers who grew flue cured tobacco have failed to sale their tobacco and those who grew barley tobacco are facing numerous challenges on the market.
Not only that, Malawi is also facing other challenges like shortage of food due to the floods that affected fifteen districts in the country and there are reports that about 2.8 million people will face hunger in 24 out of the 28 districts because of the same problem.
Worse still, farmers who grew cotton are also grappling with challenges of poor prices on the market and it has also been reported that farmers in the southern districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje will not be able to pay back the loans which they took from the companies who buy their cotton as their crops including cotton were washed away by the floods.
The donors who support forty percent of Malawi’s budget withdrew support due the cash gate scandal at Capital Hill between 2012 and 2013.
Currently, government is struggling to find money to meet the MK930 billion budget which was approved by parliament.
Malawi needs to find other alternative before things goes out of hand. The National Export Strategy (NES) which was launched in 2012 is one of the solutions to the syndrome of relying on tobacco as a foreign earner to this country.
The green belt initiative which was championed by the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika is another good initiative for Malawi to grow a number of crops twice or more annually.
The country needs also to adopt new modern technologies of farming to make it move from predominantly importing country to predominantly produce and Import County.
Farmers as well must be trained on new modern technologies of farming so that they should produce more products of high quality that can compete on the international markets.
Though government says that it will continue growing tobacco we need to ask ourselves what will happen to our economy if those who buy tobacco from us decide to stop to stop one day.
It’s high time for Malawi as a country to look into other areas than can also bring in foreign earnings like mining, tourism or diversify than relying on tobacco before it is too late.
In a related development the President for Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Thomas Munthali has said that the sales have go down by sixty two million dollar attributing this to poor sales and reduced prizes on the market.