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The country has adequate stocks of fuel; forex is available; companies are operating at full capacity. Now add to this list the fact that the kwacha is firming while headline inflation is on the downward spiral.

A huge contributing factor to this development is proceeds from tobacco sales. Malawi expects to rake in a handsome US$300 million from its greed gold this year. This is something that has eluded the country for the past three years. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Her Excellency the President Dr Joyce Banda who has worked round the clock to turn around the tobacco story, farmers will once again start reaping the full benefits of their sweat from tobacco.Soon after taking over government in April last year, Her Excellency started talking to stakeholders in the tobacco sector with a view to making growing tobacco a fruitful endeavour.The answer was the introduction of the Integrated Production System in Tobacco (IPS). IPS earmarks about 80 percent of tobacco sales to be transacted through contract farming and 20 percent through the auction system.Although government has embarked on agricultural diversification agenda, it recognizes that tobacco remains the main export earner and anchor of Malawi’s economy in the foreseeable future. Government therefore approved the IPS in the tobacco subsector to, among other things, encourage tobacco buying companies to support tobacco growers especially smallholder farmers by engaging them into contracts to produce good quality tobacco which would eventually attract premium prices on the market.So what are the specific objectives of the IPS? IPS aims to:

• Increase a predictable and timely income to the farming community from the IPS portion of the crop;

• Provide corporate social responsibility and development of infrastructure in a proper and transparent manner in the areas of operation, thus improving livelihood for rural communities

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