By Thula Chisamba
It has been established that Malawi government mislays about MKW 30 billion annually through the propensity of tobacco smuggling to other countries like Zambia.
The Malawi Star can establish that the trend is set to continue because most Malawian farmers complain that government doing little in making sure they (farmers) profits from the fruits of their hard labour.
Historically, farmers have been complaining about the poor pricing and high rejection rates. This is what makes them fail to profit from their produce.
“Much as smuggling is a crime but many farmers will never stop practicing the same, because Malawi market is not that rewarding presently.
You know, tobacco farming is the most challenging and costly, thus when gets less than what he invested into the same, he will go to any length to help himself,” said Edward Mithi, a tobacco farmer in Mzimba, Mpherembe area.
Statistics show that most farmers who have the tendency of smuggling the product into Zambia come from Mzimba, Rumphi and some parts of Kasungu.
Through their well-established links with some black markets in Zambia, they manage to carry out the illegal deals smoothly in order to make ends meet.
It is reportedly easy to cross borders between the two countries because apart from farmers having tight ties with border officials, they have also discovered some magic routes to Zambia.
On the other hand, some farmers sell their tobacco to local vendors who they claim to be buying at least at a good price.
“Apart from saving transport money and other logistical needs, when selling to these vendors, at least, we profit more than at the auction floors,” said Mavuto Jere, a farmer from Enukweni, Mzimba district.
In reaction to the raised findings, Tobacco Control Commission (TTC) information officer, Samuel Kalimba, confirmed the malpractice citing it is costing to the country to be losing our products through smuggling.
“Apart from smuggling, selling tobacco to vendors makes the farmers loose more,” said Kalimba.
Kalima said smuggling tobacco remains illegal; therefore, anyone involved in the malpractice is liable for prosecution.