The tobacco sales season opened Monday in Malawi with the crop —the country’s main foreign exchange earner – fetching up to $2.10 per kilogramme while low-quality tobacco was going at $8 per kilogramme, beating the minimum prices that were projected at Auction Floor in the capital Lilongwe.
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala told Nyasa Times that compared to the previous season, the opening prices were better this year.
Sadala said the opening prices signalled that prices might improve because growers normally offer low quality leaf at the beginning of sales.
“Prices should improve when growers start bringing to the auction floors upper leaf which is often of higher quality,” he said.
He explained that although some farmers felt the market has been opened late, there was no point in opening the market earlier as the tobacco volumes produced were lower and would not satisfy the market.
Speaking when opening the tobacco marketing season, President Peter Mutharika stressed to buyers and other players in the tobacco sector to respect farmers who work hard to produce the leaf.
He lamented the fact that farmers are victims of many players who oftentimes impose charges on services without prior consultations with the farmers.
“Farmers are working hard and apply a lot of expensive inputs, but are not getting maximum prices from their tobacco. We need to give these people the respect they deserve because they are working for all of us.
“Even transporters need to be fair to our farmers because each one depends on the other. Transporters need the tobacco, while the farmers need the transporters to take their tobacco to the auctioning floors,” he stated.
Mutharika explained that although he is determined to diversify the economy, tobacco will remain a main commodity supporting the country’s economy.
He said: “If the tobacco sector grows, we all grow and we all win. But if the industry fails, we all lose. So, let us work together, and in good faith and in a fair manner.”
Malawi earns about 165 million dollars a year from an average production of 140,000 tonnes of tobacco.
The crop accounts for over two-thirds of the country’s annual foreign exchange receipts.
Malawi also produces a modest amount of flue- and sun-dried tobacco.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :