Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) has said it has sold less tobacco this year as compared to what it sold at the same time last year, saying the phenomenon was as a result of the “high rejection rates” by the buyers at the inception of this year’s market season.
In the preliminary days after the market season was inaugurated by President Peter Mutharika and his United Republic of Tanzania counterpart John Magufuli, Nyasa Times reported a rejection rate as high as sixty-percent with some tobacco being bought at as low as US$90 cents.
Farmers at the Limbe Auction Floors boycotted the market for shoddy prices until agriculture minister, Joseph Mwanamveka, intervened and the market resumed.
AHL communications manager, Teresa Ndanga, said $20.5 million [about K15 billion] has been realized against $31 million [about K23 billion] which was realized last year.
Said Ndanga: “We have sold about 15 million kilograms of tobacco against the 21 million kilograms we had sold this time last year. The average price per kilogram is also on the lower side. The average last year was $1.47 against this year’s $1.34.”
According to Ndanga, the “rejection rates” have been the major contributing factor for the drop but said it is still good news for the tobacco farmers in the country.
She said: “Another reasons could be because the farmers accessed their inputs late and other setbacks. But we can say the situation is not very bad.”
One of Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) officials, Felix Thole, expressed optimism that the situation would improve.
“Things are improving. Like we have had good sales beginning this week, and I am hopeful this trend will continue,” said Thole.