Malawi tobacco selling season starts March 18 amid great optimism on forex earnings

The Malawi tobacco selling season is expected to start off next Monday with great optimism from stakeholders following the good quality leaf from most farmers.

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Public Relations Officer Juliana Chidumu said everything was set for the 2013 tobacco selling season and Lilongwe Auction Floors will be the first to be opened.

President Joyce Banda is scheduled to officially open the tobacco sales on Monday and according to State House, she is expected at the Lilongwe Auction Floors at Kanengo at 10.00am.

The tobacco regulatory body spokesperson said after Lilongwe, Chinkhoma Auction Floors in Kasungu will follow on March 13.

Chidumu: Tobacco season opens March 18
Chidumu: Tobacco season opens March 18

“After that we will go to Limbe Auction Floors [March 18] before finishing with Mzuzu Auction Floors on April 8 2013,” she said.

While not revealing the estimated minimum prices for the season, Chidumu said growers must expect one of the best selling seasons with their contracts already finalised.

Last month, tobacco stakeholders concluded their talks on minimum prices which were forwarded to government for endorsement.

And Chidumu said the agreed minimum prices will be announced at the official opening of the Lilongwe market.

Various players in the tobacco industry have confidence that the 2013 selling season will be better with good returns in view of the leaf’s good quality.

Besides supporting millions of Malawians, tobacco also brings more than half of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, contributing about 13 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP).

Speaking to a local daily during the week, Chief Executive Officer of Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA), Graham Kunimba indicated that the high quality leaf produced this year is a sign of good market prices.

“We expect fair returns in tandem with the quality of the leaf. I hope we are not demanding something that is outside this world and we don’t expect any problems in terms of prices,” Kunimba.

He said his association was set and has already signed contracts with transporters in Central and Southern regions and vehicles have already been dispatched to load the leaf.

Both the TCC and TAMA have attributed this year’s good quality leaf to the adoption of Integrated Production System (IPS) approved by government which entails tobacco buyers combining farming and marketing strategies by dealing directly with the farmers in producing the leaf.

Under IPS, 80 percent of the leaf will be sold through the contract system, with the remaining 20 percent going under the auction.

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