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With the anti-smoking lobby in most developed countries, do you think Malawi in general and ARET in particular will survive the pressure that is there?

Yes. Although there is global pressure to ban tobacco, the situation is not that serious. On the contrary, global tobacco cigarettes demand has been increasing annually by over 1%. This is against a background of anti-smoking lobby by consumer and health activist’s world over. There is no doubt that tobacco will reign supreme in Malawi and the whole world in the foreseeable future until demand from buying nations drops and the last smoker drops dead!

Isn’t ARET for small-scale tobacco growers only?

No. It has never been and never will. ARET serves both small and large-scale commercial farmers. We are aware that the needs of our commercial farmers are different from those of small scale ones. Most of our large commercial farmers are flue-cured tobacco growers. For instance our large scale farmers have benefited from the advisory services we offer free of charge in cases of disease incidents on their estates. They have also benefited from soil analytical tests that have helped in planning liming and fertilizer usage. They have also benefited from the readily available varieties that are at very affordable prices.

Do we really need ARET in order to boost the tobacco industry?

Yes and very much so. ARET is Malawi’s leading centre of excellence for tobacco research and extension. We are mandated by the nation to develop superior varieties of tobacco, to develop sustainable and cost effective good agronomic practices, to offer analytical services and disseminate such information to our dear farmers through our well-networked extension system. 

On the extension side ARET works to sensitize our farmers about how they can increase their production per unit area, how they should grade their tobacco before sending it to the auction floors. It is also ARET with the help of other stakeholders who take a pivotal role in reducing incidences of non-tobacco related materials in tobacco bales and tobacco nesting by reaching out to farmers through the radio and media communications. Such noble works and others justify the need to have ARET in Malawi. 

There has been talk about diversification. What is ARET doing in this area?

One of our objectives is to promote diversification away from tobacco. At local level most of our tobacco farmers already have a diversified enterprise base. In rotation, they normally grow maize, groundnuts and other suitable crops. However, ARET quest is that of pursuing an alternative high value crop(s) that will either replace or supplement the tobacco as Malawi’s foreign exchange earner. Several higher value crops such as cotton have been suggested and worked on to see their potential but this has not been exhausted.

Is ARET a private or public Institution?

It is a private institution incorporated as a trust on 1st September 1995 in order to streamline the activities of tobacco research and extension. This was in view of the critical role tobacco plays in the economy of Malawi as the main contributor to seasonal and long-term employment as well as a major foreign exchange earner for the Malawi economy.

Farmers are complaining about low prices of burley and fire-cured tobacco. What has ARET done on its part as an intervention to improve the prices in the short and long term?

ARET main role is to teach farmers on how to conduct proper grading at farm level through group and individual contacts. ARET also frequently puts out radio messages related to grading and baling before marketing. ARET is aware that intermediate buyers are the ones who have spoiled the prices at the auction floors. Most of these buyers have no or little knowledge of tobacco but rely on other hired hands to sort out their leaf. The quality of such work depends on the level of skill of the hired person. To that effect, some of the tobacco bales delivered at Auction floors leave a lot to be desired. For instance, some bales have all sorts of things in them, including features, plastics in addition to nesting. We should realise that tobacco buyers do not buy our tobacco out of sympathy otherwise they would have been out of business by now. They follow certain guidelines in determining the prices at the auction floors and if some of these requirements are not there, they tend to reflect it on the prices. Our advice is that if you are a genuine tobacco grower, know what the trade looks for and do right at all times so that tobacco buyers find no fault in your tobacco.

What are the local varieties of tobacco that ARET recommends?

We have developed burley, fire and flue cured tobacco varieties

Who is the Extension agent for my area?

See Aret Field Offices and Extension Agents

I am a flue-cured tobacco farmer and ARET does not visit me at all. What should I do if I need fast advisory services on matters related to my tobacco?

ARET has scientists available everyday who are knowledgeable on matters of flue and general tobacco production. When you make a request for help on matters related to your Estate please make all your enquiries to the following address:

The Director


P/Bag 9, Lilongwe, Malawi

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fax : (265) (0) 761 615

Telephone: (265) (0) 761 157 / 212 /148

The Director will assign the appropriate scientist and subject matter specialist to come and talk to you immediately at no cost.

Who are the beneficiaries of ARET any way?

  • All tobacco farmers in Malawi and much of the SADC region through improved technologies such as tobacco varieties, analytical and extension services.
  • Tobacco buying companies because of the analytical services on leaf chemical residues and heavy metals
  • The Malawi economy through improved foreign reserves from tobacco sales and job creation. 

Where are ARET office? And how can I get in touch with you?

ARET Head Office is at Kandiya in Lilongwe. ARET also has extension personnel in selected districts in all the regions of the country.

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