By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Tobacco sales started Monday at Chinkhoma Auction Floors in Kasungu District, with farmers crying foul over low prices the leaf fetched on the first day of trading.
The lowest price recorded on the auction market was $0.90 per kilogramme (kg) while the highest price was pegged at $1.50 per kg.
On the contract side, the leaf fetched as high as $2.30 per Kg.
Most tobacco growers who sold the leaf on the opening day rated the start as a raw deal.
Stonard Kameta, a grower from the district, lamented the situation.
“We have brought graded tobacco here which was supposed to attract as high as $1.70 but all they are offering is $1.20 and sometimes $0.90. This is not fair to us because we will not be able to recover the money we invested in producing the tobacco,” Kameta said.
Another farmer, Felix Kainga, said the situation had rendered him hopeless.
Tobacco Association of Malawi Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Felix Thole, was equally not impressed with prices offered at the beginning of the market.
“We will meet and discuss the prices,” Thole said.
Tobacco Control Commission CEO, Kaisi Sadala, said the prices were a result of poor grading and unnecessary mixture of tobacco grades by the farmers.
“When I look at the entire presentation today, the prices are not that bad but there is a lot that the farmers need to do,” Sadala said.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule Phiri, who officially opened the market, said the market was competitive this season.
On the opening day, 4,029 bales of tobacco were presented to the market at Chinkhoma Floors.