The continued promotion of contract farming has led to unscrupulous people duping farmers ahead of the 2018/2019 tobacco season.
A recent discovery by tobacco buying company Alliance One Tobacco Malawi Limited has established that some people have been collecting money from farmers, cheating them that it will be used to process their farming contracts.
In a statement made available to Capital FM, the tobacco buying company discloses that some people are coercing farmers to pay 50 Thousand Kwacha to sign a contract marketing agreement claimed to be of the Alliance One.
With the continued restrictions on smoking globally, producing countries such as Malawi are also putting measures aimed at ensuring controlled tobacco production.
One of such measures is contract farming, to ensure that tobacco is only grown upon assurance of a steady and ready market.
This is to assist in limiting the volumes of rejected leaf and excess tobacco after closure of the marketing season.
Contract farming has also seen farmers on contract getting preferential treatment at auction as their leaf enters the floor with already set buyers.
The development has however been leading unsuspecting desperate farmers to this fraudulent trap, as they attempt to secure markets for their tobacco.
Traditionally, the buying companies such as Alliance One issue their contract marketing books to grower associations, to have a focal point of contact with farmers that are to grow tobacco on contract basis with them.
The farmers access such documents through the company’s’ leaf technicians who are based in the growing areas.
Alliance One has since emphasized that is not issuing such books and is not entering into any contract marketing agreement in the current tobacco growing season.
What is happening on the ground however is that some fraudsters have started going into farming areas claiming to be from the company and demanding a fee for farmers to sign the contract.
Some of the places where cases of the said fraud have been reported include southern region areas of Nsanama, Ntaja and Chikweu.
If these cases are not reported to the company or any other buying company for verification, as well as to the regulator Tobacco Control Commission, a great number of farmers that may continue to fall victim to the malpractice and lose millions in the coming marketing season.