Land O’ Lakes, an American non-profit making organisation that supports various agricultural initiatives in Malawi, on Thursday, June 21, 2018 brought a group of students and professors from various universities in the United States of America on a visit to AHL Group head office at Kanengo in Lilongwe to appreciate the company’s operations, including the tobacco marketing system which AHL Group runs for the country.
The 23 students and seven professors were accompanied on the visit by officials from Land O’ Lakes USA and Malawi.
Welcoming the visitors, AHL Group Chief Executive Officer Dr. Evans Matabwa said the company remains committed to the smooth running of Malawi’s structured tobacco market for the benefit of both growers and the country.
He said despite the challenges the crop was facing on the international market, it remains significant to the country’s economy and wellbeing of millions of Malawians, especially in rural areas.
“AHL Group is there to ensure that the interests of smallholder growers, the government and the Malawi economy are well protected in the trading and export of tobacco,” said Matabwa.
He said realizing that tobacco is facing anti-smoking lobbies, AHL Group is also championing Malawi’s economic and export diversification agenda through new business units it is setting up to support farmers in both the production and marketing of other crops other than tobacco.
Matabwa mentioned the establishment of AHL Group subsidiary companies such as AHL Chemicals and Steel (ACSL) and AHL Commodities Exchange (AHCX) as strategic both for the group and the country.
“Through AHCX, for example, we have set up a structured marketing system like the one we are using for tobacco, of course with modifications, to support the formal trading and export of crops such as soya, groundnuts, beans and others so that they can start supporting farmers and the country the way tobacco has done,” said Matabwa.
Land O’ Lakes is in partnership with AHL Group through AHCX under its Malawi Strengthening Inclusive Markets for Agriculture (Msika) programme through which it is supporting rural farmers in the production of horticultural crops.
Speaking on behalf of the visitors, Sarah Vater from University of Minnesota said the students and professors were excited to see how AHL Group was supporting smallholder farmers in Malawi to live better lives.
“It’s interesting to see such a vast system and facilities in place to ensure the wellbeing of farmers,” she said.
The delegates were taken on a tour of the Lilongwe tobacco selling floors where they witnessed a live auction sale.