Malawi growers told to make tobacco child labour free – Capital Radio Malawi
21 July, 2024

Malawi growers told to make tobacco child labour free

Tobacco growers are being pushed to put an extra gear in eradicating child labour in the production chain of the green gold.

The sentiments were made as the tobacco commission team lead the official opening of Chinkhoma Auction floors in in Kasunga on Thursday 13th April.

The call comes as the country’s tobacco has had to face challenges on the international market over the issue of child labour, especially in the grading and farm level of the leaf.

Speaking during the Chinkhoma opening board chairperson of the TC Godfrery Chapola underscored the need to eradicate the vice and other human rights violation in the production chain to make the local leaf more attractive.

“We need to continue fighting child labour and other human rights violations in tobacco. We also need to take care of the environment. That way we our tobacco will remain attractive to the world,” Chapola said.

Chapola,We need to continue fighting child labour

Late last year, the United Nations’ experts expressed concern over the continued existence of Child labour in Malawi tobacco, with fears that the practice is keeping children out of school.

In a statement released in December 2022, the UN said its experts indicated that they had established a dialogue with some of the main companies involved in the tobacco industry in the country, including British American Tobacco, Imperial, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco Group after human rights abuses were reported within the sector.

Apart from the issue of child labour in the production chain, another iissue that  constantly affects sales is poor quality of the leaf as well as cheating tendencies by some growers who mix add debris in their bales.

During the opening of the 2023 season in Lilongwe, President Lazarus Chakwera also raised concern over the quality of the leaf, which he feared has the potential to affect prices, leading to low earnings.

Echoing Chakwera’s concern, Minister of agriculture Sam Kawale has reemphasized on the need for growers to follow guidance from extension workers towards improving quality of the leaf to attract good prices.

Kawale has also warned against leaf tampering.

“Farmers should desist from cheating in the baling of their tobacco,” Kawale said.

Meanwhile trade at the Kanengo Limbe and Chinkhoma auction floors is pregressing well, with promising prices.

Since the opening of the 2023 market season on 12 April, the tobacco has been sold at an average price of 1dollar 82 cents per kilogram, as the market opened at an average 1dollar 80 cents on Wednesday and reached an average 1dollar 88 cents on day three, giving a positive picture of the prices this season.

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