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Leaf market closes today

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Joseph Chidanti Malunga

The 2021 tobacco selling season closes today with earnings from the green gold seen above what the country earned last year.

Market operator AHL Holdings and regulator Tobacco Commission (TC) have confirmed that remaining bales of tobacco brought to the market in Lilongwe and Mzuzu auction floors would be sold today.

Figures provided show that, this far, the leaf has fetched about $191.5 million from 118 million kilogrammes (kg) of all types of tobacco.

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The earnings are higher than the $168 million realised from 109.7 million kg traded.

Average prices the leaf fetched also improved, seen at $1.62 per kg compared to $1.53 per kg last season.

However, tobacco growers say the prices were still below expectation.

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In an interview Tuesday, Tobacco Association of Malawi Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda rated the market as less satisfactory.

He said trading has been characterised by disappointing prices when compared to cost of production and fears the rise in farm inputs such as fertiliser may affect output next season.

“The next season will be harsh because of the rise in prices of farm inputs; therefore, for a farmer to manage, it will be hard which will make them borrow from tobacco buyers who have very high interest rates,” he said.

Speaking in an earlier interview, TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said despite other challenges such as Covid which posed a threat to the market, the market has run smoothly.

Malunga, however, admitted that farm inputs have increased in prices and that they are working on reducing the cost of production while discussing with buyers.

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