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REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

STATEMENT
BY
HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF 2016 TOBACCO SELLING SEASON

KANENGO, LILONGWE

13 APRIL 2016

Tobacco is a very serious matter. It has been the life of our economy, our
life! Therefore, I come not to tell you what you want to hear, but what you must
hear. Its time to decisive action!
This country has thrived on tobacco for more than a century now. And we
continue to depend on this crop as I speak. We have seen the best of times;
and we have seen the worst of times.
My Government promotes tobacco production and marketing as a crop of
strategic importance. It is a crop that economically empowers our smallholder
farmers in rural areas. And we are determined to continue promoting value
addition to increase our export earnings.
We are promoting tobacco while diversifying our agricultural base at the
same time. We also promote other economically viable enterprises. These
include cotton, tea, rice, paprika, cassava, sugar, groundnuts and other
legumes, sunflower, livestock, aquaculture and macadamia nuts.
More than ever, our tobacco industry faces challenges we have never
known before. They are challenges we must face and conquer together! United
we are a rock, divided we are sand.
As tobacco buyers, we worry about quality of the leaf at home, and antitobacco campaigns abroad. We think about our investments.
As farmers, we worry about the high price of farm inputs; we worry about
the low price we get paid; we worry about drought and climate change. We
think about our survival.
As Government, we think about our farmers; we think about our tobacco
investors; we think about the economy. We think about the lives of the people.
The first thing we need is a good economy for our farmers, our investors,
and for everyone. We need an economy that grows with stability. And we are
getting there. The International Monetary Fund just confirmed that we are
turning round the economy. Rest assured, we will stay the course.
Our situation as a country demands decisive action in every sector! Its time
for tough decisions. The tougher the challenges, the tougher the decisions!
Most urgently, we demand uncompromised quality of the leaf from every
farmer. And we demand fair pricing that profits our farmers. But questions of

quality and pricing are symptoms of deeper issues. Let us proceed to cure the
causes beyond treating the symptoms. This is the philosophy of my leadership.
In the long vision, the tobacco industry demands three cardinal actions. We
must create better regulation of the industry. We must provide affordable
fertilizer for the farmers. And we must protect our farmers from drought and
climate change. Let us tackle the big demons first, and once for all. That is what
a long range vision must do.
First things first! Regulate the industry more efficiently. The Tobacco Act is
outdated, and a review was already conducted. Minister of Agriculture, and
Minister of Justice this is your call! Parliamentarians here is your duty! We must
regulate new developments such the Integrated Production System (IPS) to
support tobacco investors, protect quality and protect our farmers.
By the way, Minister of Agriculture are you here? Much policy direction
and action on the tobacco industry, and food security, depends on the Ministry
of Agriculture. You are the new broom with an old history of sweeping wherever
you have been. Sweep that Ministry, or I will sweep you! Sweep the industry! I
am told already some buyers are not happy with Dr. Chapondas appointment
because they know what they are sitting on! There is much work to be done!
Our farmers are labouring more and earning less. There are issues to be
tackled by strong regulation of the tobacco industry. But one thing is clear and
urgent. We must reduce the cost of production by reducing the cost of fertilizer.
Our solution is to bring home investors in local fertilizer manufacturing. We
must create more jobs at home and save our forex. We must stop importing
fertilizer. I am pleased that there are new and big investors getting ready to start
manufacturing fertilizer on our own land. Good news for Malawi. This should
support tobacco and maize farming alike.
Above all, we must also plan for tobacco irrigation systems especially now
as we plan large scale maize irrigation.
That said; I want sanity in the tobacco industry. Most of the so called grower
associations are only exploiting farmers. They reap where they didnt sow. Stop
this nonsense. Scrutinize and vet all tobacco grower associations. Cut out the
chaff! We need only those grower associations that provide valuable services to
the farmer. No tobacco farmer must be deducted money for the associations
which are not providing any useful services.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Last but not least, let me address our tobacco buyers. We want fair prices!
Every year, we always agree on pricing. And yet you always abandon our
agreement. This year, we told you to suggest the minimum prices yourselves.
And we took them. I did that deliberately. I am a democrat who likes dialogue.
But you should also know that a person who doesnt listen is not worth listening
to. Listen to us! I know you have the integrity and honesty to keep your own
word.
We respect you as investors and that you are important to our economy.
But we will not respect any exploiters among you. Investing in a country is not
exploiting the country.
We understand the difficult international market forces you have to
contend with. But we will neither understand nor forgive tax evasions. Tax
evasion is criminal. Non-remittance of foreign exchange is criminal. Using bogus
work permits to hijack Malawian jobs is criminal. Racism and segregating
Malawians in the tobacco industry is simply unacceptable. This is Malawi!
And let me say this, just to assure you that we are together in this industry. I
will have my eyes, my ears, and my feet on the ground in the industry. In that
way, we can walk together!
If we all walk together, work hard together for this country, everybody will
be happy in the end. A prosperous Malawi will make everybody prosperous.
Thank you for listening!
God Bless You and Bless Malawi!