Farmers threaten to sell tobacco abroad
Some tobacco farmers in the country have threatened to sell their tobacco outside the country if the Tobacco Commission (TC) fails to revise upwards the proposed minimum prices for the 2023 season.
This year’s tobacco marketing season is expected to be opened in the second week of April.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) President Abel Kalima Banda said members have accessed the draft minimum prices of tobacco, which, he said, have not pleased them.
“It is unfortunate that the government, through TC, has only increased the prices by an average of 5 percent, which is on the lower side, considering the current elevated cost of production. For example, the 2023 proposed flue cured tobacco minimum price is $4.30 for the highest graded leaf, a rise from $4.25 in 2022.
“Farmers will not do otherwise but go and sell their tobacco in countries such as Zambia and Mozambique, which are offering better prices. This is killing tobacco farming because prices are too low here and don’t match with the prices of farm inputs,” Banda said.
He disclosed that the association would engage TC officials on the matter today.
TC is yet to comment on the matter.
One of the farmers from Mzimba District, Eliot Ziba, said, last season, farmers were investing about K460,000 on average in a hectare while this season they have invested about K1.1 million in a hectare.
“This is an injustice to us,” Ziba said.
Output for Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner, tobacco, is projected to leap by 51.4 percent this season to 128 million kilogrammes (kg) from 85 million kg the country produced last year.
The First Round Tobacco Estimates report by TC attributes the expected rise in volumes to better prices the leaf fetched last season, better rainfall this year, entry of new buying companies on the market and increased sponsorship by merchants.