Malawi tobacco sales suspended

Tobacco sales at Malawi’s main auction houses were suspended on Friday.

In Lilongwe market farmers protested prices had tumbled too low for them to make a profit.

This was the second time for tobacco sales to be suspended since the market was opened by President Bingu wa Mutharika at Lilongwe Auction Floors.

Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) spokesperson Rozita Tanamana said growers protested “a high rejection rate” and “low prices.”

Tobaco sales suspended

A tobacco farmer said growers were getting a raw deal since the costs of inputs have gone up with the weakening national currency, the Kwacha.

According to Tanamana, things came to a head on Friday, forcing the AHL to suspend sales of the leaf.

“Sales have been suspended because most growers are not satisfied with prices,” She said.

Tanamana said sales may resume on Monday.

Meanwhile, sales at Limbe Auction Floors in Blantyre were also suspended on Thursday because buyers had bought all the leaf that was available for sale there.

During the opening of the Limbe market, tobacco was being bought at as high as $2.35.

Tobacco Control Commission boss Dr Bruce Munthali said Limbe market has recorded “zero” rejection rate.

Tobacco accounts for up to 60-percent of Malawi’s foreign exchange earnings.  Up to 80-percent of Malawians are directly or indirectly dependent of the industry.

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