Tobacco sales in all the four auction floors continue to face problems ranging from low prices to high rejection rate forcing the country lose out K11 billion.
Mark Ndipita, Corporate Affairs Manager of Tobacco Control Commission said tobacco has so far raked in K16 billion since the markets opened five weeks ago. He said same period last year, the sales hit K27 billion.
“The market continues to face huge challenges. As you might be aware, the market experienced low tobacco prices and high rejection rate, this affected the sales,” he said.
He said since the market opened on April 13, farmers have sold 21 million kilograms of tobacco whilst same time last year they sold 30 kilograms.
Ndipita, however, said things are improving as the rejection rate on Wednesday stood at 47.8 per cent compared to the rejection rate at the opening which was at 70 per cent.
“We hope the tobacco prices will pick up so that the country can make a lot of money,” said Ndipita.
He said on Wednesday burley was selling at 89 cents per kilogram at auction floors at Kanengo whilst same type of tobacco on contract hit US$1.20.
President Peter Mutharika’s call for better prices, even his threats to visit the markets unannounced has fallen on deaf ears.