Bingu’s insolence reason for Malawi’s low tobacco prices – VP

The decision by President Bingu wa Mutharika to deport some tobacco buyers from Malawi has had a ripple effect into the current problems Malawi is facing today, Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda has claimed.

She said this during a public rally held in Mzimba on Friday.

“In Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania prices have been good and fair but in Malawi it is Mutharika’s rudeness that is basis of our suffering because the country does not have forex therefore unable to import fuel, medicines and other things,” Banda said.

Joyce Banda: PP goverment will focus on agriculture

At the close of the tobacco marketing season, Malawi had sold about 223 million kgs of the gold leaf which fetched around US$276 million (about 4.7 billion Malawi Kwacha) translating into a unit price of US$1.24 per kg.

This was a slight improvement from the 2010/11 season when the country earned $267 million, then a big drop from the $363 million the nation earned during the 2009/2010 marketing season.

Tobacco, Malawi’s main foreign currency earner, accounts for more than 60 percent of the Southern African country’s exports and 15 percent of its gross domestic product. A drop in total tobacco revenues is trouble for Malawi, which is already hit by an aid freeze from its western donors who contribute about 40 percent to its national budget.

Banda said one of the deported buyers, is now based in South Africa, and has a say on how tobacco prices are fixed per country .

“As PP we would want to concentrate on agriculture especially cattle rearing. It’s a pity that Malawi has the lowest cattle population in the SADC. We only have one million cattle only,” she said.

The Vice President also queried government on what has happened to the much hyped Green Belt Initiative.

“What is the principal secretary especially appointed for the Green Belt Initiative doing? We should not have hunger in this country if we have a whole department that has been tasked to ensure that we have food all the time,” Banda.

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