Blantyre, Malawi - Jolam Muheziwa, a subsistence maize farmer in Malawi's southern district of Chiradzulu, has been pursuing his dream of "living a comfortable life" by selling his maize harvests to middle men who export the crop to other countries.
But after 20 years working in the maize field, the 65-year-old father of three says his dreams suffered a terrible blow when the government imposed a ban on maize exports to prevent food shortages.
"This greatly affected my business as the traders stopped buying maize in huge quantities... Instead, I started growing tobacco," he told Al Jazeera.
And the results were instant.
"My life has been transformed. I have now bought a car. As I am talking to you now, the construction of my four-bedroom house is above the foundation level in my home district of Chiradzulu," he said.
Muheziwa is among many Malawians who are joining the tobacco industry to boost their incomes and standards of living.
Besides transforming people's lives, tobacco has also helped boost the country's economy. Malawi derives its foreign exchange earnings from tobacco, and statistics show that the crop currently contributes about 70 percent to export earnings with a 13 percent contribution to the country’s GDP.
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