Speaking on the sidelines of the TBZ consultative meeting held in Chipata yesterday, EFAZ chairperson, Franklyn Mwale, says changes to the act are needed because of the transformation that has taken place in tobacco farming methods and marketing.
Mr. Mwale says the tobacco Act has been in existence for over 40 years and needs to be amended to suit the current trends and growing number of farmers in the province.
He emphasized that the act should just be amended so that it addresses current issues such as sponsorship of farmers without farming equipment and levies that farmers pay, instead of completely being repealed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mwale says that due to last year’s good market for the crop, more farmers have been encouraged to grow tobacco during the 2017-2018 farming season.
Mr. Mwale has urged farmers to provide the association with information that will assist EFAZ to start negotiations with the government through TBZ over buying companies.
And The Eastern Fodya Association of Zambia (EFAZ) has also called for the establishment of a tobacco processing plant in Chipata in Eastern Province.
This is to reduce the cost of transportation of raw tobacco and promote value addition.
EFAZ president Franklyn Mwale said that there was need for a tobacco processing plant to be established in the district.
Mr Mwale said that farmers were currently transporting all the produce to Lusaka and Malawi were it was processed.
“Eastern Province produces a lot of tobacco; everything produced here goes to Lusaka for processing and this is proving to be costly in terms of transportation.
“So when a processing plant is opened here, the cost of production will be reduced,” he said.
Mr Mwale side establishing the processing plant in Chipata would encourage farmers in the province to grow more of the crop and further create jobs for local people.
He projected that this year’s production was expected to drop because most farmers had only planted flue-cured tobacco which was easy to sell.
Mr Mwale said that farmers were learning to grow the flue-cured tobacco and that not much was expected to be produced this year.
Mr Mwale said that most farmers in the province had stopped growing barley which was easy to grow but difficult to sell.
He said that only farmers that were supported by Japan Tobacco International had planted barley tobacco.