Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday made a surprise visit to Kanengo Auction Floors in Lilongwe to see how tobacco marketing season is progressing.
Banda who was accompanied by First Gentleman retired Chief Justice Richard Banda said she wanted to make sure that tobacco is being sold at a higher price.
“I came to see how much our farmers are getting; they work hard in the fields and I wanted to make sure they make profits after selling,” Banda said.
Banda said she was impressed with how the sales were going with the highest leaf being sold at $2.59 per kg for burley and about $1.95 for the lowest.
“I am impressed with the sales, at least we know our farmers will make profits,” said the Malawi leader amid cheers from the farmers, adding that she has asked the authorities to raise the selling price.
The Malawi leader has appealed to tobacco buyers and everyone not to swindle the farmers by offering low prices.
“Buyers, please offer good prices to our farmers as they put a lot of hard work in the farming; let them enjoy the fruits of their hard work,” Banda said.
Tobacco has been fetching low prices on the market in the recent years.
The situation was worse in the late Bingu wa Mutharika administration as the commodity fetched as low as 80 cents with the highest being sold at $1.50 to $1.80 per kg.
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.