One of Malawi’s tobacco buyers, JTI Limited, says delayed rainfall during the 2021/22 tobacco growing season has affected contracted growers as well as the company.
The company said this during a media briefing on 2021/2022 Tobacco Marketing Season which the company conducted at its offices on Thursday in Lilongwe.
Speaking with reporters, JTI Leaf Malawi Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Limbani Kakhome said that despite the challenges the company was facing, they took deliberate steps to ensure that their growers were cushioned as much as possible to mitigate the impact.
Kakhome added that the first was to psychologically prepare the growers who were most impacted to not give up and be in despair.
“The second step we took was to release cash collateral of over half a billion kwacha back to the growers. This money was ideally given back to the grower when they repaired their loans during the tobacco sale,” he said.
He went on to say that they recognized the challenges being faced and they took the decision of giving back the money in February before the loans were repaid so that they can be cushioned in these difficult times.
On pricing, Kakhome said prices were buoyant due to increased demand for the leaf and as usual JTI contacted growers are enjoying higher averages than the market due to their overall above average quality leaf presentations.
He then explained that preparations for next year’s tobacco season are already underway and said it is pleasing to see that growers are undeterred despite experiencing one of the toughest seasons ever.
“Almost all the JTI growers have already shown interest to grow tobacco again next year by making sure they endeavor to fulfill their current contractual obligation like volume delivery and loan repayments,” he said.