While some economic commentators describe it as a positive, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) says the appreciation of the Malawi Kwacha against the dollar is a negative for tobacco farmers in the ongoing tobacco selling season.
The kwacha is trading at K441.803 against the US dollar as of Friday in the country’s commercial banks, Nyasa Times found out.
TCC board chairperson Inkosi ya Makosi M’belwa V said the phenomenon is “complex” because farmers buy farm inputs when the currency is at a depreciated rate and when time to sell comes the kwacha appreciates.
He said at Chinkhoma Auction Floors in Kasungu where he accompanied agriculture minister Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza for the inauguration of this year’s tobacco marketing season.
M’belwa said, as a result, farmers are being driven into the oblivion of poverty, therefore, not reaping from their investments.
“Also, our farmers are charged highly on farm inputs and I’m asking our tobacco buyers to address this problem in order to lessen the burden of or farmers,” he said.
Chiyembekeza corroborated M’belwa’s sentiments saying his ministry is always open to hear from farmers.
He also urged farmers to avoid being “violent whenever differences on pricing issues arise.”
In a separate interview with Nyasa Times, TCC Chief executive officer Bruce Munthali said the floors had opened on a good note.
“Buyers are buying the tobacco within the set prices,” he said.
The minimum set price for Burley tobacco is 85 cents but during the opening day the lowest bale fetched US$ 1.35 per kilogram while the highest sold at US$2.10 per kilo.
Malawi is an agro-based economy and tobacco, also referred to as the green gold in Malawi, is the country’s main forex earner.
President Peter Mutharika has expressed commitment that his government will further intensify the promotion of agricultural diversification for farmers to gradually start switching from tobacco to other economically viable enterprises.
Apparently, Mutharika’s direction is in line with recent calls by anti-smoking campaigners.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :