Time of great stress and danger is crippling Malawian tobacco farmers following information that over 45 million kilograms of locally produced tobacco has no international markets.
Malawi’s key Tobacco buyers gave local tobacco regulator, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) their required ceiling for the 2015/2016 tobacco growing season which they said would be 120 million kilograms, however local farmers produced over 165 million kilograms of tobacco this year, resulting in an over production of about 45 million kilograms of the crop.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, Alliance One Tobacco Malawi Limited managing director, Hugh Sunders who is also chairperson for Tobacco exporters Association of Malawi disclosed that as tobacco buying companies they always submit their required kilograms of tobacco which they intend to buy every year to TCC, but expressed disappointment that local tobacco growers still over produce the crop.
“Over production is a big problem at the moment here in Malawi, we know these farmers have families to take care of, so the question sometimes is, if we don’t buy the extra kilograms of the leaf where else are they going to sell it,” said Sunders.
He said the tobacco buying industry is facing a lot of challenges which include over taxation due to the on going anti tobacco smoking lobby campaign globally being championed by the World Health of Organizations (WHO).
Sunders further said that there was need to fully regulate the local tobacco production in order to create a better demand and supply which will also enable farmers to sell the leaf at a better price.
According to Saunders his company still has last year’s stock of tobacco which is lacking some international markets.
“For instance Alliance One as a company still has a lot of tobacco in our warehouses which we bought last as we still don’t have the market for it,” disclosed Saunders.
Some agriculture experts have on several times blamed TCC for its failure to manage the crop’s size by among other issues ensuring that farmers should not over produce the crop and stick to their registered quotas.
TCC Chief executive officer Albert Changaya also collaborated with Sunders that indeed over production has been a big challenge in the local tobacco industry which in some instances has led to decrease in a take buying prices of tobacco.
Changaya also confirmed that some tobacco will have no markets because of over production.
“Farmers produced 165 million kilograms of tobacco this year and our buyers are demanding only 132 million kilos this means that 33 Million kilograms of Tobacco has no market this year,” said Changaya.
Changaya, however, disclosed that his institution is in the process of putting some measures in order to deal with the problem of over production which among other required procedures is that each farmer who is interested to grow tobacco must clearly register with his organization as well as the quota which he is intending to cultivate.
“We have just started registering our farmers now, what we are doing is that we will be strict this year that 123 million kilograms, we are sure that this will create demand and increase value of the leaf during selling season as incidents of over production will be minimized,” said Changaya.
On the tobacco which has been over produced, Changaya said although his institution does not have any solution, he still pleaded with the tobacco buyers to find the common solution on the same. –Additional reporting by Isaac KambwiriFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :