Tobacco market in Lilongwe was on Thursday temporarily suspended after hundreds of tobacco farmers protested over the decision by JTI Leaf Malawi, a tobacco buying and processing firm, to stop buying tobacco from farmers the company had contracted.
JTI officials had not been to the market since Monday when the company stopped buying the tobacco and sources say the company accused the farmers of over production.
There were no JTI officials to confirm this but Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) head of communication confirmed stand off between the company and the tobacco farmers.
He said there were close to 300 tobacco bales at the Lilongwe Auction Floors from tobacco farmers contracted by JTI but the company is refusing to buy the leaf.
Some people at the auction said JTI asked AHL and Tobacco Control Commision to sell the leaf to other buyers who are also refusing to buy it.
The same, our source said, is happening at Limbe Auction Floors.
However, the company is still buying tobacco from Mzuzu and Chinkhoma Auction Floors.
The bitter tobacco farmers were meeting late afternoon on Thursday to chart the way forward following the decision by JTI to abandon them after the company had signed a mutual agreement to let the farmers grow the tobacco for the JTI.