Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa has assured tobacco growers in the country that no grower will remain with unsold tobacco by the time tobacco markets are close, saying the Tobacco Commission is now ready to attend to applications for production quota uplifts.
“I wish to inform you and the nation at large especially the tobacco farming communities, tobacco buyers, transporters and other stakeholders in the tobacco industry, that measures have been put in place to ensure that the tobacco marketing season is concluded in good time and that no tobacco grower remains with unsold tobacco.
“As you are aware, the tobacco marketing season has been going on since May, 2019 when the tobacco selling season was officially opened by His Excellency Dr. John Joseph Magufuli, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania in conjunction with His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika,” Nankhumwa told reporters in Blantyre on Friday, September 6, 2019.
Flanked by Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule Phiri, Controller of Agriculture Services, Dr. Alexander Bulirani; CEO for Tobacco Commission, Kayisi Sadala and Programme Manager, Blantyre ADD, Eric Haramani, among some high-level officials, the minister noted that since the official opening of the tobacco marketing season, “a lot of good things have happened.”
He said “as we approach the tail end of the season, I decided to update the people of Malawi on what has been achieved and what remains”.
Nankhumwa said at the beginning of the season, tobacco merchants had indicated that they were ready to buy a total of 149,560,000 KGs comprising 123,200,000 KGs of burley, 20,380,000 KGs of flue cured tobacco and 5,980,000 KGs of dark fired northern and southern division tobacco.
“As at 30th August, 2019, the market had sold a total of 147,223,032KGs of all 4 tobaccos and the country had realized two hundred fifteen million six hundred seventy three thousand and ten United States Dollars (U$215,673,010).
“As you will notice from the figures, the trade demand has not yet been attained. There is a total of 2,337,000 KGs of mainly burley tobacco to be bought to match the trade requirement. It has also been noticed that the flow of tobacco to the selling floors is declining. This shows that the tobacco marketing season is coming to an end,” observed the minister.
Nankhumwa added that after observing this decline in the flow of tobacco to the Auction Floors, the Tobacco Commission conducted consultative meetings with stakeholders in all the four major selling floors to find out how much tobacco is remaining in order to decide when to close the markets.
Minister Nankhumwa noted that some growers are unable to bring their tobacco to the selling floors because their production quotas have been exhausted.
“In this regard, it is estimated that there might be about 2,400,000 KGs of tobacco country wide pending production quota uplifts. I would like to inform you that there is a provision in the Tobacco Industry Act which the Tobacco Commission uses to effect quota uplifts. I wish to assure all tobacco growers that are affected by this problem that they will be assisted.
“However, it should be noted that this quota uplift is a management procedure whereby the original quotas allocated to growers both on Auction and on Contract are increased by a margin exceeding the margin of 10%, which is normally allowed. Quota uplifts are executed by the Tobacco Commission following well established procedures,” said the ministerm
Nankhumwa pointed out that government is strict about quotas because it wants to manage the crop size so as to align it to the trade requirements for better tobacco prices.
Whilst Agriculture is the mainstay of Malawi’s economy, tobacco is the main export earner, providing over 60% of foreign exchange earnings. Such being the case, Nankhumwa pledged to regularly keep the nation abreast with developments in the agriculture industry in general and tobacco in particular.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :