Tobacco Production and Tenancy Labour in Malawi

Publication Date: 

January 12, 2015


Centre for Social Concern Malawi (CSC)


Tenants provide most of the labour and bear most of the risk in production of the tobacco crop, and yet they receive only a fraction of end sale of the tobacco, have no job security, are typically provided with poor housing and few social services amenities, and have little or no leverage at all in negotiating or enforcing their verbal contracts; and last they have inadequate legal protection with regard to their plight.

The tenancy labour workers belong to a distinct class within the Malawian rural communities, in particular socio-economic circumstances which must be standardised through policy and practice. The tenancy labour problems cannot simply be wished away

Government has the responsibility to look at and evaluate any labour and economic arrangement however primitive or technological, to determine how it can enhance the dignity of the worker; government has the primary responsibility for the whole orientation of policy. Such a particular responsibility entails conducting a just labour policy in the context of the broader operation of the economy; a policy is just when the objective rights and duties of both employer and worker are fully respected. A just policy ensures that the work relationship between the employer and employee presents a mutuality of duties and rights