The Lilongwe tobacco auction during Tobacco Reporter’s visit in 2017
Despite the many challenges facing the industry, tobacco has a future in Malawi, reports The Nation, citing a study by the Comesa Business Council.
That is because tobacco contributes significantly to the attainment of at least eight Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, decent work, economic growth responsible consumption and production and life on land.
Titled Tobacco Sustainability in Africa, the study found that tobacco production helps farmers get out of poverty, become more food secure send their children to school. It also ensures that both men and women participate in production and guarantees environmental conservation, among others benefits.
Tobacco production supports more than 1.7 Malawians, according to the authors. “The global drive against consumption of tobacco products has a significant impact on the sustainability of the tobacco industry,” the wrote. “This will ultimately affect the tobacco, farmers in tobacco growing countries.”
In a November 2020 statement, the Tobacco Commission, which regulates the tobacco industry, said the future of tobacco remains intact despite the challenges facing the industry.
“The country is yet to identify a competitive crop or another best alternative to tobacco,” the statement read. “Until we reach that stage where we shall have an alternative crop that will be raking in much foreign exchange as tobacco, we will still be relying on tobacco.”
Tobacco remains Malawi’s major foreign currency earner and contributes about 15 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.
The country earned $173.5 million from tobacco exports in 2020, down from $237 million in the previous season.