Malawi President Joyce Banda has faulted the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) campaign to stop people from smoking cigarettes, saying it might hurt her country’s foreign exchange earnings.
However, she said despite the campaign threatening Malawi’s economic growth, the country would continue to grow tobacco for trade.
Ms Banda was speaking on Monday when she opened this year’s Malawi Tobacco Market in Lilongwe.
She said tobacco was crucial to the country’s survival and implementation of Malawi’s Economic Recovery Plan.
“This year’s production has doubled last year’s. We are expecting to produce about 156 million kilogrammes of tobacco. Last year we only managed to produce 80 million kilogrammes. Malawi is expected to realise $300 million when the market is complete,” she said.
Ms Banda pegged her figures on stable prices, which stand at the $2 rate, the highest that buyers offered on the opening day.
Malawi is a leading producer of burly tobacco, which, the President said was in high demand.
“My government is consulting with manufacturing companies, among others BAT and other local companies, so that tobacco should be processed into cigarettes locally,” she said.
The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of 2003 targets tighter control of advertising, packaging and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke.