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Farmers lament rising tobacco no-sale rate

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

Some tobacco farmers have decried rising tobacco rejection rate on the market and low prices some buyers are offering for the leaf.

Figures from the market operator, AHL Group, show that, at the start of week eight, rejection rate reached 60 percent.

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Most of the tobacco was reportedly rejected at the auction floors.

Some farmers we spoke to at the Lilongwe Auction Floors claimed that buyers were tactical to reject the leaf and lower prices when brought back for resale.

Yakobe Mwale, a farmer from Lumbadzi in Lilongwe District, said, in recent years, farmers have been cautious on how they grade and prepare their tobacco to fetch high prices.

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“We are failing to service loans, we don’t understand the problem this year because it is different from all the other years,” Mwale said.

Another farmer, Simbeni Jameson from Mponela in Dowa District, said, at this time last year, prices were over $2 compared to a range of $0.90 and $1.10 this year.

AHL Group Public Relations Manager, Tereza Ndanga, said, by Wednesday, the rejection rate had eased to 50 percent on the auction market.

“Comparatively, during the same week last year, the rejection rate was averaging 20 percent. We also notice that the average price is now picking up,” Ndanga said.

In an earlier interview Chief Executive Officer of Tobacco Commission, Kaisi Sadala, said the trends were perpetuated by market forces.

Tobacco market demand stands at 151 million kilogrammes (kg) and the country is expected to produce nearly 205 million kg of tobacco.

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