Members of Parliament on Monday passed the Tobacco Industry Bill which seeks to improve earnings of poor tobacco farmers.
The bill seeks to regulate contract farming which has been marred by dubious contracts and low prices offered at the auction floors.
It also mandates the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) to regulate all issues in the tobacco industry.
Speaking after the passing of the bill, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha the bill is a milestone towards ensuring that local tobacco farmers are protected.
“This bill is important because it protects the farmer as you know that in the past we have been complaining that the farmer is being ripped off,” Mwanamvekha told YFM Online.
Mwanamvekha said the bill will also address issues of contracts and pricing.
“In the contract farming the farmer could sign the contract without knowing the terms and conditions of that contract for example they wouldn’t know the price of the inputs and the price at which they would sell their tobacco,” he said.
Mwanamvekha said the bill will ensure that buyers are not involved in the production of tobacco.
“The bill also allows farmers to remain farmers and buyers to remain buyers.”
Commenting on the passing of the bill, Chairperson for the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Maxwell Thyolera said the bill has replaced and improved the existing tobacco law.
“We want the farmer to reap from the fruits that they have invested in,” he said.