A commentator has reiterated the need for Malawi to replace tobacco as the country’s highest forex earner following low prices at the market.
The 2017 tobacco selling season opened last week but farmers sang the same song of low prices with the highest price on opening day being $1.50 per Kg while some farmers sold their crop for as low as 80 cents per Kg.
Joshua Mbewe an economist said the way the tobacco selling season has started is a clear indication that the crop is no longer the green gold Malawi should be relying on.
“Gone are days when tobacco could be taken as our main forex earner and hub of the economy,” Mbewe explained in an interview with Malawi24.
He further said the low tobacco prices will solidly affect the 2017/2018 national budget since it will be difficult to realize the much needed forex.
“We will have difficulties to service both external and internal debts and the economy will continue to limp and stagger,” Mbewe said.
According to the analyst, time has come for people to diversify and begin growing other cash crops which may boost the economy.
President Peter Mutharika officially opened the 2017 tobacco selling season in Lilongwe where he told farmers to venture into other business saying the global campaign against tobacco will continue to affect Malawi.
Tobacco production in Malawi is one of the nation’s largest sources of income. As of 2005, Malawi was the 12th largest producer of tobacco leaves and the 7th largest global supporter of tobacco leaves. As of 2010, Malawi was the world’s leading producer of burley leaf tobacco.
With the decline of tobacco farms in the West, interest in Malawi’s low-grade, high-nicotine tobacco has increased.
‘’Today, Malawian tobacco is found in blends of nearly every cigarette smoked in industrialized nations including the popular and ubiquitous Camel and Marlboro brands. It is the world’s most tobacco dependent economy’’ a swift internet search about Malawi tobacco reads.