President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday opened the 2017 Malawi tobacco selling season at the Lilongwe Auction Floors and warned tobacco buyers against collusion.
“I will be monitoring the selling floors closely to ensure that your so called market prices are more than the protected ones,” Mutharika said.
The President emphasised that tobacco farmers need to get better prices for their leaf and there should be no illegal agreement, between stakeholders who attempt to manipulate prices or disrupt the market – Collusion.
Collusion involves companies or people that would typically compete but who choose to conspire or work together, that way securing an unfair market advantage.
The President said he was concerned about the increase in cases of illegal cross border trade in various crops, including maize and tobacco among others.
He added that it is depressing to note that those involved are Malawians, a clear indication of lack of patriotism on their part. “The practice is illegal and must stop”.
Mutharika ordered the Malawi Defence Force to deploy troops along border posts suspected to be used by smugglers of maize and tobacco and take to task anyone involved in the malpractice.
“I appeal to the communities in border areas, and the Malawi Police Service to support the efforts of the Malawi Defence Force in combating this illegal practice. We should all of us show that we love our country by collectively dealing with this problem effectively and decisively,” Mutharika ordered.
The country’s leader said it is his hope that this 2017 tobacco marketing season would be smooth and of great benefit to the tobacco growers and Malawians in general.
“My expectations are that you will be running both the contract (IPS) and auction marketing systems side by side on a daily basis. My understanding is that tobacco farmers have already chosen which system they will be patronizing this marketing season,” he said.
Mutharika appealed to all tobacco buyers to effectively participate in both systems and urged each one of the buyers to play their part in the most fair and considerate manner.
Chairperson for Auction Holdings Limited Group, Margaret Roka Mauwa said the opening of the floors max the begging of the very important activity in the economy of the country.
She said the trading of tobacco which still remains the major cash crop of the country has been a strong major of the country’s performance in the economy in recent times.
“The performance of tobacco selling in the last season was very disappointing; most farmers lose their money as they could hardly cover expenses during the growing and selling of the crop. Some of them spend months sleeping at the auction waiting for their tobacco to be sold,” She said.
Mauwa said this was due to poor prices which prevailed throughout the season and urged the country to not continue to relying only on one crop as revenue resource.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :