By Chisomo Phiri
Parliament on Wednesday passed the Tobacco Industry Bill which seeks to repeal the previous Tobacco Industry Act (act No. 10 of 2019) and replace it with a new and comprehensive legal framework for the regulation of the tobacco industry in malaŵi.
Among other things, it establishes the Tobacco Commission (the “Commission”) as the regulatory body of the tobacco industry in Malaŵi and prescribes its functions and powers
The new legislation further provides a licensing framework for stakeholders in the tobacco industry, including growers and growers’ association; hessian scheme, transporters and transporters’ association, buyers, commercial graders, floors operators and manufacturers.
The Bill, when it becomes operational, will further regulate contract and non-contract farming, tobacco production and delivery quota, sale of tobacco and its prices, processing, import and export of tobacco, disposal of tobacco plants and stalks, research and extension in tobacco; and sale and consumption of tobacco and nicotine products.
Speaking in an interview after the passing of the Bill, Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale hailed Members of Parliament (MPs) for supporting the Bill saying it meets the criteria and expectations of the tobacco industry across the world as it is dealing with issues of tenancy and child labour and also how different stakeholders were supposed to operate.
“We have made sure that we protect the growers as there was a possibility of carnivorous activities by the big companies, for example, we have protected the growers in the sense that the big corporations should not be involved in growing tobacco or be involved in transportation. It will also make sure that our tobacco meets the international standards,” said Kawale.
He further said the Tobacco Bill will help in tracing every tobacco leaf through the registration of the growers by extension workers,adding that, internationally it is prohibited to buy tobacco from countries where things are wrong in terms of human rights violations, use of chemicals and kind of labor.
The Agriculture Minister said he is optimistic that if signed into law, the tobacco bill will also attract indirect buyers to start buying from Malawi directly and more companies will come and open companies that produce products from tobacco.