Tobacco market closes in Malawi as firm busts contract leaf fraudsters

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) is finally closing Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner tobacco markets across the country as Chinkhoma has finally received the last bales on Wednesday ahead of the closure of the market on Friday.

Farmers at Chinkhoma

TCC general manager Kaisi Msadala said Limbe Auction Floors will shut down next week to be followed by Lilongwe Auction Floors a week after and the Mzuzu Auction Floors.

“We are very satisfied in  the manner the market has performed, there had been no interruptions which means the tobacco growers were satisfied with the prices,” he said.

However, the season was overshadowed with reports that some employees of Alliance One were arrested for selling contract agreement certificates to people who were not on contract with the company.

Company managing director Hugh Saunders confirmed the arrest of the employees, saying they were selling the certificates at K10, 000 each.

“We were surprised that there were more tobacco volume than we expected but the advantage is that we have an electronic ticketing system so when the illegal tobacco came, the electronic ticketing system could not log in, it rejected it,” he said.

He said the company has rejected 356 bales of tobacco so far, saying they might have been smuggled in from outside the country.

Saunders however assured those with valid permits of the contracts that their tobacco would be bought.

TCC general manager Msadala said this was a private issue between Alliance One and its employees but said as a tobacco regulatory body it would ensure that all those with valid tobacco contracts with the company have their tobacco bought.

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