May 18, 2021

Agriculture Minister calls for sharing of tobacco benefits

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Lobin Lowe MP, has asked the tobacco companies to try to share more fairly the benefits of the crop between the international customers, the buyers and the growers saying they are all in business and need sufficient motivation to continue with tobacco production.

Lowe said the growers are abandoning tobacco farming claiming they are not being rewarded sufficiently, adding the figures this year are a testimony of unfair behavior of individual elements of a chain.

Speaking at the Tobacco Industry Conference, Lowe said the issues of a solution of tenancy labour, elimination of child labour and review of the use of afforestation levy are being pursued mentioning the Minister of Labour, Hon. Ken Kandodo promised that the Employment Amendment Bill will soon be presented to Cabinet and later to the June Parliament sitting.

Lowe said government has all along been looking into the issues of tenancy labour but the problem has been that given the anticipated huge number of tenants, there was need to institute a study to inform the abolition and provide solution to the emerging issues.

He mentioned that the Ministry of Labour has prepared a child labour policy which is also ready for presentation to cabinet saying the Ministry of Labour has asked for enhanced budget to allow for effective enforcement of child related work laws.

The Minister said the afforestation levy issues are being followed by the Board Chairman for the Commission, expressing optimistic that there is some progress with the Ministry of Finance.

…”Trade demand this year is 132 million Kilograms first round estimated volume of 122 million Kilograms, these two figures, show that there is a problem concerning the expected behavior of some of the elements operating in the value chain…,’’ said Lowe.

Hon. Lowe said customers overseas are even stronger links of the chain having invested billions of Dollars in cigarette manufacturing plants, saying the survival of these very strong links are dependent on very weak links which are the growers. 

By Vincent Gunde

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