Farmers call for scrapping of tobacco auction system

Farmers in Malawi have formally approached the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) which is the sector’s regulator to stop tobacco auctioning system.

The crop growers through Farmers Union of Malawi are asking TCC to increase contract farming of tobacco which they say assures them of good prices, quality leaf and financial accessibility.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday FUM president Felix Jumbe was confident that contract farming is the way out after the auctioning system’s failure to offer better prices over the years.

Munthali: Need consultations

“We have struggled with tobacco pricing for year immemorial as we have been accused and hit by several tactics from buyers the main one being compromising quality so that they offer us very low prices at the auction. Now it is high time authorities stopped the auction system and increased contract farming,” said Jumbe.

Consultations

But TCC general manager Bruce Munthali said replacing the auctioning system will need more consultations and planning meaning farmers have no choice but still use the auction for tobacco sales.

“It has to be put on record that its not only farmers that are calling for more contract farming but buying companies plus many stakeholders are for this change. We will continue to use both systems as they have advantages,” said Munthali.

Auction Holdings Limited is the one that manages Malawi’s tobacco auction systems and over the years it has been fighting the campaign against more contract farming as it would put it out of business.

AHL chief executive officer Evans Matabwa said he could comment on this issues since TCC was already handling it.

Tobacco farmers have again this year faced frustrations in sales as it went below expectations to $0.30 per kilogram.

The auction also charges farmers some fees for using its platform for trade.

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