Malawi tobacco sales register success amid challenges -TCC

Experts on the tobacco industry say the country’s on-going gold leaf  marketing season continues registering success in both pricing and revenue collected despite other challenges facing the industry.

Chief Executive Officer for the Malawi’s tobacco regulatory body, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) , Dr Bruce Munthali says in just three weeks after the opening of the season on March 12, the country has realized 12 million dollars compared to 3 million dollars it realized during the same period last in 2012.

In terms of production, the country has this year produced 156 million kilograms which is a double last year’s 79 million kilograms.

“The prices are about 23 percent higher compared to last year which was regarded as  a good year in terms of pricing,” says Munthali while expressing optimism over the conduct of the market.

Munthali: i

Munthali: Tobacco being smuggled

However, Munthali says despite the successes, more and more kilograms of tobacco are being smuggled into neighbouring countries the development he says  will negatively impact on the realization of much needed foreign exchange.

Statistics show that about five percent of Malawi’s tobacco has so far been smuggled in neighboring countries like Zambia and Mozambique slashing official receipts from the country’s main foreign exchange earner by US$10million.

Speaking during the opening of this year’s tobacco marketing season in the Capital Lilongwe on March 11, Malawi President Joyce Banda projected that the country is expected to realize $300 million from the tobacco against last year’s $177 million.

She beamed with high expectations that the tobacco inflow would fill the forex shortage gap created in the recent past.

However, the local media recently quoted market analysts arguing that with monthly import demand at $188 million, this year’s $300 million forex earnings from tobacco will just b enough to meet Malawi forex needs for 47 days.

Tobacco contributes about 70 percent to the country’s exchange earnings.

The crop which is referred to as ‘green gold’ in Malawi also contributes about 13 percent to the country’s Domestic Gross Product. It also earns 23 percent of total national revenue with about 80 percent of the population directly or indirectly employed in the tobacco related activities.

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