The Ministry of Agriculture has asked tobacco growers who do not have grower licence for this growing season and cannot afford to pay licence fees on cash basis to do so on credit and be deducted from the proceeds once their tobacco is sold.
Minister responsible, Sam Kawale, told journalists on Monday that as provided for in the Tobacco Industry Act (No.19 of 2019), annual licensing for tobacco growers was supposed to close by 30th September but has been extended due to growing demands from various stakeholders to have the licensing period extended.
He added that his Ministry directed the Tobacco Commission to extend the 2023 licensing period to 31st October, 2023 and despite the extension that was granted, his Ministry has noted that there are still some growers who have not yet been assisted.
“Being a considerate and listening Ministry, I have directed that the registration period be extended further by two weeks to 17th November, 2023 and this is with immediate effect. My Ministry recognizes the critical role that the tobacco growers play in the value chain and appreciates the economic challenges they face,” he said.
According to Kawale, the prices that were offered during the 2023 season coupled with the licensing initiatives that the ministry directed the Commission to introduce have led to overwhelming response from the tobacco growers.
As of Friday, 3rd November, 2023 the Commission had issued 49,073 licences translating into 239.2 million kilograms licensed quota.
He went on to say that during the previous season, a total quota of 188,165,365 kgs were licensed and going forward, the Ministry through the Tobacco Commission will continue courting new buyers in order to ensure that the production and demand are always balanced.
At the close of the 2022/2023 tobacco marketing season, the industry had sold 120.5 million kgs at an average price of USD2.35 compared to 85 million kg sold the previous season at an average price of USD2.14.