Malawi: Columnist writes on tobacco industry's impact on environment & food production; Philip Morris comments
"Malawi's forests going up in smoke as tobacco industry takes heavy toll"
Malawi is reliant on tobacco for 60% of foreign earnings, but while demand is falling the cost of environmental damage caused by the industry is rising...while tobacco is central to the economy, there is a high price to pay. The industry contributes greatly to the destruction of forests, with millions of trees required for the drying barns involved in air- and heat-curing. The cost also includes floods, changed rainfall patterns, and a reduction in food growing...
According to Philip Morris, manufacturer of cigarette brands like Marlboro and Benson & Hedges and one of the largest buyers of Malawian tobacco, it takes 10kg of wood to dry 1kg of tobacco. In a statement, the company, based in Switzerland, said: “The average amount of wood needed to dry tobacco is currently 10kg of wood/kg of dry tobacco. PMI and [local NGO] Total Land Care have created cooperatives to plant more than 90m trees and bamboo on farms and communal lands, helping to reduce Malawi’s deforestation.