Embargo: 00.01 28 October 2016

 28 October 2016: Malawi joins World Tobacco Grower's Day celebrations

 Other countries joining this celebration are Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Macedonia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

World Tobacco Grower's Day (WTGD), celebrated for the fourth year in a row, is an initiative promoted by the International Tobacco Growers' Association (ITGA) since 2012.  With the WTGD, tobacco-growing communities around the world seek to jointly defend the sector's legitimacy by publicising the significant contribution made by tobacco to their regions and countries.

WTGD celebrations will be attended by the State Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, Honourable Dr George Chaponda, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Principal Secretary for the Ministry, other Government Ministries and Departments, Managing Directors and Chief Executives of the tobacco industry and tobacco growers among others.

Growers insist on the fact that they grow a legal crop for a legal market, and that tobacco provides a livelihood to millions of growers, rural workers and their families around the world.

With the WTGD, tobacco growers around the world also wish to collectively demand from their governments a sustainable future in the face of the large uncertainties engulfing the tobacco market as a result of a steep decline in demand, without any present options that may ensure the subsistence of tobacco-growing communities.

On-going regulatory measures are also a source of grave concern for the sector.  The summit where most of these measures are discussed, the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), will hold its seventh meeting in New Delhi, India, this November.  Malawi has played a major role in defending growers' rights since the first CoP, given that many proposed measures had a direct impact on the livelihood of Malawian tobacco growers and their families.

In recent statements, the Head of the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, has said that the Convention was created to address an epidemic.  Growers and their associations recognize the need to introduce measures to curb tobacco consumption but, in over ten years since the inception of the WHO FCTC, they have not been afforded any opportunity, not a single one, to participate and present the sector's realities.  In the same period, the WHO FCTC has grossly underestimated the consequences of many of its proposed measures and refused to understand that most of them would not have any impact on consumption but would indeed affect, irreparably, the livelihood of tobacco growers and their families.

Malawi tobacco growers have watched with utter frustration the increasingly stronger exclusion measures imposed by the WHO FCTC, which we consider totally inappropriate, particularly because they come from a UN organization that claims that transparency is the guiding principle in all processes under the WHO FCTC, as evidenced in statements made by Dr da Costa e Silva, said Mr Reuben Maigwa, President of the Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) and vice President of the ITGA.

In Malawi, a country where more than half of the population lives in extreme poverty and mostly in rural areas, tobacco is an important and irreplaceable source of income: tobacco exports account for 70 per cent of foreign currency income, while the growing sector generates 1.8 million direct jobs and the tobacco supply chain as a whole, almost 5 million jobs


Notes from the Editor:

African tobacco sector infographics (link infographics)

Tobacco growers demand that:

  • Their right to consultation in the development of any policy that affects them directly be guaranteed;
  • The significant economic contribution made by tobacco to the economies of growing countries be recognized;
  • Sound and thorough market assessments are conducted when proposing measures

The International Tobacco Growers' Association (ITGA) is a non-profit entity that promotes the cause of millions of tobacco growers around the world.  The ITGA advocates for the inclusion of tobacco growers in global discussions, trying to provide them with a strong collective voice in the international arena to ensure protection for them and their families.