The new SADC Chairperson Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda has quashed the global advocacy campaigns against Tobacco growing saying they threaten farmers’ability to earn a living.
“Tobacco is an important product to the economies of most of SADC member states. It is against this background that Malawi would like to voice its serious concerns over legislation…This has an adverse and dire impact on growing of burley tobacco in the region by both small-scale and large tobacco farmers,” Dr Banda said.
She said this in her acceptance speech at the ongoing SADC heads of States and Governments Summit being held at the Bingu International Conference centre in the Capital City, Lilongwe.
Dr Banda has succeeded Mozambican President Amanado Emilio Geubuza.
She said for the SADC region to achieve durable and long-lasting peace and stability there is need to start with the war against poverty.
The SADC noted that the economic downturn of recent years has highlighted the vulnerability of Africa’s economies to external shocks saying there is need to need to intensify efforts towards regional integration to build resilience against future shocks.
“Despite the recent and on-going benefits of the commodities boom, agriculture remains the engine of our long-term, sustainable growth.
I have therefore chosen as the theme for my term as Chair of SADC, to promote our regional integration agenda through a focus on “Agricultural Development and Agro-Industries: Key to Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction in SADC Region”. Dr Banda said.
She said it is time for people in SADC region manage agriculture as a business.
“We need to work harder to help our smallholder and commercial farmers build, grow and sustain their businesses, to feed ourselves and access new markets beyond our region,” the SADC Chairperson said.