Tobacco buyers are looking to buy 151 million kilogrammes of all types of tobacco next season which is about five million kilogrammes less of the tobacco demanded during the 2015/2016 season.
The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has confirmed receiving the trade requirement and says it has no choice but to enforce strict quotas on farmers to stay within the demand.
This year’s tobacco market registered some of the worst rejection rates in history and an overproduction of 30 million kilogrammes has been mentioned as a contributing factor.
The over production was mainly on burley tobacco as the buyers were looking for 132.5 million kilogrammes against an estimated local production of 165 million kilogrammes.
TCC Deputy Chief Executive Officer, David Luka, said to meet the new trade requirement, TCC will introduce a new registration system.
“We have a new registration system called farmers management system where we will be asking the growers information about their fields when they come to apply for quota licences.
“Through this system, we will be giving the grower his or her quota based on the trade requirement,” he said.
Luka, however, said the development is likely to have a negative impact on the sector. Luka said his office has already started receiving complaints from the growers who are not happy with the quotas.
“Individually, the quotas might seem too little, but that is the requirement that is there and this is the cake that all tobacco farmers should share.
“Our appeal is that farmers should understand the situation we are in. We are currently battling with the World Trade Organisation on the anti-smoking lobby and the introduction of e-cigarettes, all these have a negative effect on tobacco producing countries,” Luka said.
But he said the measures will help to avert the likelihood of another disastrous tobacco marketing season next year.
“We are concerned with what has happened during this tobacco marketing season and we would like to see change in future,” he said.
Luka said in the event that buyers increase the quota, TCC will also adjust individual farmer’s quotas to match the demand.
“It is not our wish to see the farmers grow less tobacco but rather we would like to see them grow what they will be able to sell and not just grow and end up keeping the tobacco in their houses,” Luka said.