By: Cathy Maulidi
JTI Leaf Malawi Limited, one of the Country’s tobacco buying companies, want its farmers to fully graduate from conventional barns to live barns by 2025.
This was said on Friday, when officials from JTI company led by John Gauna, JTI Managing Director took part in the maintainance of live barns at Mzinga Village, T/A Chitukula in Lilongwe.
Speaking to MIJ Online, Gauna said for so long, farmers have been using wood-based barns in the curing and storage of tobacco, a thing that has contributed to deforestation.
He said, despite contributing to deforestation the conventional barn is also expensive. Gauna said for instance, a farmer spends about k400 000 to k600 000 each year to erect a wood-pole barn.
“As a company we are promoting the use of live barns in order to reduce the need to rely on natural woodlands for construction materials and of course reduce carbon emissions in our supply chain. But not only that, live barns also reduce barn establishment and maintenance costs which in essence mean more money in our farmers pockets.”
“Again, tobacco that is cured in a live barn cures more like in a natural environment and cures slowly. Quick cured tobacco is not desirable and fetches lower prices on the floors in most cases. In other words, live barns influence quality, reduce labour costs and result into increased farmer returns.” Said Gauna.
He added that, JTI as a company has taken a position that all current and potential growers interested in entering into production contract with JTI through Integrated Production System must plant, manage, roof and use live barns as a condition for contracting.
Gauna emphasized that, it is now a policy that JTI will not buy any tobacco from any individual grower who is not interested in growing, taking care of and using live barns.
“Trees are part of the tobacco crop. No trees no tobacco and therefore no contract with us. In fact, going forward, the award of any project, grower prizes or any incentive to the growers or their communities will use the establishment and use of live barns as a condition for eligibility.” He stressed.
One of the JTI Farmers, Ganizani Fulu from Mzinga Village T/A Chitukula in Lilongwe said he embraced the live barn concept in 2013 and fully graduated to Live barn early last year.
Fulu said, “I was using conventional barn before graduating to live barn, but that time I could spend k300 000 to k400 000 each year to purchase the wood-poles. So now that I use live barn, I’m able to save money and produce quality leaf that attracts big money on the market”. Said Fulu.
JTI Malawi introduced the live barn concept in 2013 and since then 7.6 million trees have been planted, translating into 39, 914 live barns.
Out of these, 4, 778 are operational and the company registered the highest survival rate of 84 percent