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International tobacco market demand up

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International demand for Tobacco for the coming season is estimated at 175 million kilogrammes (kg), International figures from the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) show.

International buyers need 171 million kg of all types of tobacco, about 12.8 percent higher than the 149 million kg produced.

In an interview on the sidelines of a tobacco growers outreach meeting in Zomba on Saturday, TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kayisi Sadala, said that, for two consecutive years, the industry has been missing its required quota.

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He said the commission is targeting to break even in the coming growing season.

“Our meeting here is to encourage the farmers to grow the crop. It is very important that, as we licence the farmers, we must do that in line with demand. If we over supply, this will negatively affect both the farmer and the economy because prices will be compromised,” he said.

Sadala described the current tobacco marketing season as encouraging, as prices are improving compared to the situation last season.

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“There is a lot of sanity; the buyers are doing their best to buy within the minimum prices that were agreed with the government.

“At the same time, the commission continues to urge farmers to make sure that they prepare their crop very well and grade it properly so that we do not get excuses for lower prices,” Sadala said.

He further said the Outreach programmme is criticial for the commission as it offered an opportunity for interaction with the farmers as well as other industry players.

“The programme gives the farmers an opportunity to raise their concerns, observations and contributions in terms of how best we can improve the industry but also hear from them about challenges or problems they are facing as they get involved in the production of tobacco,” he said.

During the meeting, some farmers complained that, of late, tobacco from Kanengo Auction Floors has been coming to Limbe for sale.

They said this is happening despite some of them having their bales unsold at the floors since the market opened.

In his reaction, Sadala said one of the buyers asked to move tobacco to Limbe on contractual ground.

“At that time, there was no congestion in Limbe, but suffice it to say that nobody can move tobacco from any other floor without the involvement of TCC.

“Companies have to get permission from TCC to do that. At the moment, we are no longer allowing any company to move tobacco from Lilongwe to Limbe until such a time when the Limbe tobacco quota has been duly exhausted and that the other floors still have lots of tobacco to sale,” he said.

In terms of rejection rate Sadala said it is improving, and currently hovering around 10 to 15 percent in all markets country wide.

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