Farmers are seeking the High Court for an injunction against the implementation of the Tobacco Industry Act, while also protesting the current system of selling tobacco.
The situation was similar during last year’s tobacco market, as farmers felt that Section 60 of the Act is unfair. The Act imposes a penalty of 75% of the proceeds of all sales of excess tobacco produced beyond the stipulated quota. In the prior market season , the new Act would not be applied, as it was announced amidst an already ongoing market. Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Felix Thole said that the Act would demotivate farmers, describing the development as a big blow to farmers because it means unprecedented losses will be incurred. “Our appeal is that we should wait till next year for full implementation of the provisions because the law came in while farmers had already grown the crop.”
A year later, tobacco farmers are still resistant towards the Act, as they reported the matter to Parliament to consider reviewing the Act. On the other hand, the farmers feel exploited by the current system of selling tobacco, as the cash crop is being sold in the farmer’s absence.
All the mayhem happens amidst the coronavirus pandemic that is economically crippling the country, while the auction floors have registered improved sales. Regardless, the farmers have to be considered, especially with the arrival of the virus, the penalties will be a huge blow to their households.