INTERNATIONAL ANTI-SMOKING CAMPAIGNERS THREATENING THE FUTURE OF THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY IN MALAWI. Tobacco is Malawi’s green gold. Tobacco earns about 60% of Malawi’s forex thereby qualifying to be the major contributor to Malawi’s economy. For the past few years, the tobacco marketing season has been characterized by high rejection rates at the auction floors, a great number of bales returning with no sales, and low average prices.
The 2011 tobacco marketing season proved to be the worst with burley average price falling by 41% from US$1. 90/kg in 2010 to US$1. 13/kg in 2011. The total average price on the auction floors was 33% lower as compared to the 2010 average price (US$1. 86/kg to US$1. 24/kg). International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) Tobacco Courier: Quarterly Publication No. 52 December 2011 – www. tobaccoleaf. org. Although the average price for all tobacco types improved in the 2012 marketing season from US$1. 4/kg in 2011 to US$2. 22/kg in 2012, the volumes of the crop dropped significantly from 208 million kgs in 2011 to 79. 6 million kgs in 2012 representing a drop of about 62%. – TCC 2012 Tobacco Sales Summary. This could be as a result of the impact the poor prices had on tobacco farmers in the previous season and also the uncertainty surrounding the future of tobacco production due to international treaties like the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FTCT).
In November, 2010, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) CoP4 through their Working Committees on various Articles of FCTC, approved in principle to regulate flavouring ingredients which they believe increases the attractiveness of tobacco products. The Conference also recommended the restriction or total banning of additives or flavourings used in the manufacturing of tobacco products. Internet Source: www. tobaccoleaf. org. (21. 08. 2012).
A number of other recommendations were also discussed which when adopted would mean doom for the tobacco industry. Malawi is one of the countries to be affected if WHO-FTCT’s measures are adopted. Malawi should therefore lobby for international support in ensuring that recommendations and guidelines by the WHO-FCTC are not implemented without considering Malawi’s concerns since tobacco production remains the backbone of Malawi’s economy and a livelihoods for most Malawians in the rural areas.