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Chaos at Lilongwe tobacco market

Chaos ensued at Lilongwe Auction Floors Thursday where tobacco farmers disrupted the market following high rejection of the leaf and low prices that were being offered to farmers on auction system.

The farmers threw bunches of tobacco at the buyers. Some even took a step further to disrupt the sale of the leaf by those on contract.

Batumeyo Levi, a tobacco farmer from Kasiya in Lilongwe said he was disappointed with what had happened.

“Things are not going on well. Many bales are being rejected, yet we took very good care of the tobacco before bringing it here. The rejection rate is very high,” Levi said.

He added: “What pains most is that, tobacco of same quality is being, given different prices. Those on contract are getting better prices. I think this is happening because some buyers are growing their own tobacco. This must be stopped. They should just come to buy.”

AHL Group Corporate Affairs Manager, Mark Ndipita said the rejection rate reached 71.2 percent.

“Buyers who sell tobacco on the auction system were not happy. They even forced the sale of tobacco on contract to stop. Those selling on auction said they were being offered lower prices than those on contract. When rejection rate reached 71.2 percent, the farmers disrupted the sale,” Ndipita said.

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Chief Executive Officer, Albert Changaya, has condemned the farmers’ action.

“We are very concerned that the sale has been suspended. What normally happens in all our meetings [is that] we advise farmers that whenever they are not satisfied with the prices, they should contact our officials at the market to present their grievances. If they want to stop the market, it should be after TCC officials have advised them. What they did today is that they just ganged up, stopped the sale and they also went to disrupt sale of contract tobacco. As you saw there was fracas among farmers. That was not good,” Changaya said.

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