One of Malawi’s leading tobacco buyers, JTI Leaf Malawi says it is very hopeful the country will have a successful tobacco marketing season where its contracted growers will deliver the best quality tobacco despite the unfavorable weather conditions in some districts.
Addressing journalists ahead of the opening of the 2018/19 tobacco marketing season scheduled for April 25, JTI Leaf Malawi Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Limbani Kakhome said the general crop outlook indicate Malawi has this year produced high quality leaf which consumers on the international marketing are demanding.
“We have gone around visiting our growers and we are very happy with what we have seen. The quality of the leaf both in the fields and barns is good. As a company, we have provided training and extension services throughout the crop cycle which has helped us coach our growers to manage weather conditions while meeting new industry leaf standards that are in line with global demands,” said Kakhome.
He said research has shown that the world-over smokers are demanding low nicotine tobacco. He said to attain the kind of leaf demanded by cigarette consumers, JTI has provided training and extension services throughout the crop cycle, imparting knowledge and skills on the growers to produce the leaf that meets global demands.
In addition, Kahome said his company has been holding grading clinics meant to teach growers on how to properly grade their tobacco so as to eliminate Non-Tobacco Related Material (NTRM) in tobacco bales.
“We promote quality because that’s what buyers of our cigarettes demand. Quality leaf fetches more at the auction floors and as JTI we pay a premium price for top quality leaf. The grading clinics and extensions services we have been providing our growers are meant to attain the quality that will attract premium price which is what we want our growers to fetch at the floors.
A JTI contracted grower Kondwani Harawa from Mwazisi in Rumphi was also upbeat for the new marketing season. He said as a grower, he was looking forward to a very successful marketing season.
“We have been taken through the type of tobacco JTI wants this year. In this regard, the company provided us with extensive extension services from the start of the tobacco crop season right through to the end in order for us to deliver good quality tobacco our buyer is looking for,” said Harawa.
JTI bought 24 million kilograms of tobacco last year. It however did not say how much volume it is buying this year saying doing so now would impact negatively on the running of the market.