Malawi tobacco sales down by 40%

Forex continues to elude Malawi’s economy as information shows a 40 percent sales downfall from top foreign exchange earner, tobacco.

Latest information and figures from the industry’s regulator, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) acknowledges that the country’s economy is indeed relying on a dying giant.

TCC says as of October, tobacco earnings has so far only amounted to US$242 million (about K40 billion), which represents a decrease of 40 percent compared to the same time in 2010.

President Mutharika inspecting the gold leaf when he opened the tobacco auction floors

Although government has promoted value addition on the crop, meaning, cigarette manufacturing that some Malawians have already started in Blantyre, the results are not yet forthcoming.

Some officials in the Ministry of Agriculture say they are advocating for diversification of major cash crops by trying to bring in cotton to replace tobacco but they have met stiff resistance from politicians.

Although tobacco’s earning are nose-diving, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) is adamant that forex reserves for the country are over US$400 million which above the safe line of 3 months import cover.

But the figure has been disputed from within the central bank’s system where technocrats says it is derived largely include amounts held in personal accounts called foreign currency denominated accounts (FCDAs).

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