ANDREW Banda says the introduction of Statutory Instruments number 84 and 85 that among other things ban tobacco companies from running tobacco floors will destroy the tobacco industry.
In an interview yesterday, Andrew said government should ensure every policy benefits the small-scale farmers and not few people who want to rob farmers.
“I am a tobacco grower and I can proudly claim that I am one of the biggest producers of tobacco in Eastern Province. I can proudly say
that I have been in this industry for over 30 years,” he said. “For me whatever has to be done especially with the Statutory Instrument, it
must be to the benefit of the small-scale farmer. These politics in tobacco that you are seeing coming are as a result of people who have an interest.”
Andrew said he knew the people who were pushing the Tobacco Board of Zambia on the two SIs.
“Why don’t these people take an interest in the tobacco farming by financing it? I cannot have a problem with that because this is a free market.
Growing tobacco is involving and why should somebody want to control the floors when the tobacco is ready?” he asked. “Does TBZ support farmers? It is a regulatory body, it represents the government, the government is not there to exploit people. There is no problem for TBZ checking and regulating what should be done but to exploit… We know that there is a group of people that are interested because this group was there before.”
Andrew said he had an audience with agriculture minister Michael Katambo over the two SIs but that he could not divulge what was discussed.
“We know that there is a group of people that want to exploit farmers and they know themselves. For me they are being mischievous, they are being cantankerous and it is uncalled for to exploit already overtaxed farmers,” he said.
Andrew said the SIs should be withdrawn before it destroys the industry.
He called on all stakeholders to speak out on the matter.
Andrew said people should not think that tobacco growers were ignorant about what was happening.
The introduction of the two SIs has been received with mixed feelings among tobacco farmers and some stakeholders.
Japan Tobacco International farmers have since petitioned government to withdraw the two SIs.