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Tobacco trading stopped indefinitely in Migori

18 November 2013, 13:33 Oduor Omondi

Migori - Tobacco trading in Migori County has been temporarily stopped pending price negotiations between tobacco companies and the County government.

The County deputy governor, Nelson Mahanga Mwita, while issuing the order said the farmers have been suffering while the companies mint a lot of money from the commodity.

He said tobacco farmers in Migori County, which is the country’s chief producer, have been wallowing  in abject poverty since they started growing the crop 20 years ago adding that no trading should go on until a proper mechanism to ensure harmonised payment to the farmers is met.

“I want to appeal to all the tobacco companies trading within the County to temporarily stop buying and opening new markets within the County until proper mechanisms are put in place,” said Mwita.

The companies were summoned by the county government officials two weeks ago to a consultative meeting where they were asked to issue a statement on how best the farmers can benefit as well as how to maintain a sustainable environment management.

The summons came after an outcry that tobacco farming had led to drought and food insecurity in the region due to high deforestation.

The management of Mastermind Tobacco Company however stormed out of the tobacco stakeholders’ consultative meeting as they had failed to agree to commit the company to be bound by would-be resolutions at the meeting.

The meeting, which brought together the three tobacco firms in the region and the County government officials, had sought a solution to the tobacco farmers' grievances.

The companies were also put to task on their policy on corporate social responsibility as they were accused of doing nothing to plough back some of their profits to the community.

On Thursday, the three companies and the County government led by the executive member for agriculture, Moses Chamwada, and his counterpart for environment and disaster, Polycarp Wambi Ating’a, began a two-day follow up workshop to chart the way forward to rescue tobacco farmers from what they termed as blatant exploitation by the firms as well as environment conservation strategies.

The workshop is also expected to deliberate on the pricing of the commodity while the County government will discuss the rules on sales and farming of the product.

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