Malawi has sold 13 million kilograms (Kgs) of tobacco, generating over twenty-six million United States dollars (USD26 million; about K21 billion) during the ongoing tobacco sales at the country’s four tobacco floors.
Despite having some challenges which have led to low volumes of tobacco this year, the Tobacco Commission (TC) has described the current situation in tobacco markets as promising as the product is said to be bought above the prescribed prices.
This is according to TC’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Joseph Chidanti Malunga who was speaking during a press briefing on Friday, May 20, 2022 in Blantyre where he was updating the nation about this year’s tobacco auction season.
The CEO further told journalists that the most exciting news is that a lot of tobacco which was expected to be bought at minimum prices, is currently being bought above the mark which he said will see growers breathing a sigh of relief.
“For illustration purposes, burley tobacco grades of NG (non-descript) that would ordinarily be bought at the government’s set minimum price of 95 cents because reflecting on its quality, had been bought at a price as high as $1.76 which is 85% higher than the set minimum price.
“As of 18th May, the average price of the leaf was two dollars and four cents (US$2.04) per kilogram. We anticipate that we can get even better prices but these are positive developments on the market,” said Chidanti Malunga.
Dr Chidanti Malunga further indicated that this year the commission will only manage to sell at least 100 million kilograms of the product against the required 161 million kilograms which he attributed to change of rainfall patterns.
However, the CEO indicated that despite the low volumes of tobacco this year, there is the possibility of generating more income at the end of marketing season claiming the low volumes have put buyers under panic.
He further commended farmers for quality grading of the crop this year which he said has resulted into low rejection of the leaf in all the markets which he said will definitely increase the incomes as well.
“Even the rejection rate has tremendously reduced and in some cases, we don’t even have rejection. I went to Mzuzu the other time Chinkhoma, there was no rejection at a particular point. So, this is exciting not just to the commission but the growers as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, the commission says as one way of improving productions in the next farming season, there will be early registration of growers slated for June this year which will give growers ample time to mobilize resources and pay for their licenses in good time.
In the next growing season, the commission will not restrict farmers on production volumes to a rigid figure and instead it will allow for production plans as indicated by growers, based on the size of the land earmarked for the farming.