Financial Management courses for tobacco farmers

It is the tobacco selling season in Malawi and farmers are reaping the benefits of their hard work. Take this case for example.

Four farmers in a district of the central region walked into a police station and asked for a police officer to escort them to the bank so they could withdraw their earnings. The policeman on duty was reluctant to release one of his men but eventually did so. The farmers walked in the bank and asked if their proceeds had been cleared and they had been, all K1,300,000 of it. The farmers filled out a withdrawal slip and handed it over the the teller. They withdrew all their money, took it and sat on the floor in a corner of the banking hall with the policeman standing sentry close by. The farmers shared the loot equally by placing the cash in the middle like a pack of cards with each one of them took turns picking a single K500 note at a time. This happened until they all had equally shared all of the money. Now note what each did with their loot.

– One of the farmers then took his share back to the teller to deposit into his account. Fair and good but that could have been doing without necessarily withdrawing it. making the poor teller count all that money.
– The second farmer took his share and packed it into a bag to go and show his wife after which he would come and deposit it back with the bank! Talk about seeing is believing.
– The third farmer took his share and started shopping at the trading centre. He bought bicycles, clothes, foodstuffs, you name it until he had no where to store his goods safely. Shop till you drop, perhaps?
– I don’t want to even guess what the fourth farmer did with his share.

For the good security services rendered to the group, the policeman walked away with some K22,000. I can only imagine how many other people got handsome tips for watching over our third farmers goods or how many people drank free coffee in the surrounding tea rooms.

All this shows that most tobacco farmers are not good at managing their finances and urgently need some form of training. Maybe it’s time Tobacco Association of Malawi, the banks and tobacco growers associations looked into the issue. Otherwise this hard earned cash will continue to be carelessly managed and needlessly wasted.

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1 Response

  1. Austin, you raise an important issue here. It sounds basic but the importance of financial management is key. The farmers attitude after getting their pay following tobacco sales often leaves alot to be desired. It is around period like this that crime rate is on the increase as they get mugged by bundits for carrying tonnes of cash to the pub when they could keep the money in the bank account.

    A well managed or formal co-operative society could help solve the problem. The challenges require a concerted effort from all stakeholders.

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