President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has officially opened the 2015 Tobacco Selling season at Kanengo Auction Floors in the capital Lilongwe with the call from all stakeholders in the tobacco industry to desist from illegal cross border trade of the country‚Äôs green gold.
Mutharik said illegal cross border trade deprives the country of the valuable foreign currency, jobs and taxes which are essential for financing services.
‚ÄúThis act deprives government of the much-needed forex as the illegal trade is not regulated and is usually at lower prices,‚ÄĚ he bemoaned.
‚ÄúI have therefore instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, irrigation and Water Development in collaboration with the Tobacco Control Commission and the Police as well as other security organs to be vigilant in order to curb this malpractice,‚ÄĚ he disclosed.
Mutharika warned that any farmer or stakeholder in the tobacco industry is caught illegally exporting the leaf to other countries, they will be prosecuted irrespective of their status.
‚ÄúIf anyone is caught, he or she should be brought to book regardless of his or her position and I will not protect anybody,‚ÄĚ Mutharika warned.
Prof. Mutharika said he is hopeful that the 2015 tobacco marketing season will be smooth and of great benefit to the tobacco growers and Malawians in general.
‚ÄúMy expectations are that you will be running both the contract (IPS) and auction marketing systems side by side on a daily basis.
I therefore appeal to all tobacco buyers to effectively participate in both systems. I urge each one of you to play your part in the most fair and considerate manner. We are all in it together, and if one part fails we all go down.‚ÄĚ she said.
Meanwhile farmers have expressed satisfaction over the prices buyers are offering.