The Limbe Auction Floors will open Wednesday for this year’s tobacco selling season which started on a relatively low note at Lilongwe Auction Floors last month due to slow inflow of the leaf.
The opening of the market, which will be presided over by Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe, is despite erratic flow of tobacco, a development which industry players attributed to the “premature opening”.
Tobacco Commission (TC) Public Relations Officer Telephorous Chigwenembe has defended the opening, indicating that, last week deliveries were underway and they expect more tobacco this week.
“For Lilongwe, it is not shaky. It is normal and we expected it because the market opened earlier when many growers were still preparing their leaf. The flow will surely improve by the end of April or early May when most growers will be ready with their leaf,” he said.
The erratic flow of the leaf to Lilongwe Auction Floors forced TC to limit market days to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until the flow of tobacco improves.
Even though such is the arrangement, one Monday the market did not open because tobacco volumes on the market were very low.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda backed the decision to open the Limbe market, indicating that it will be better to sell in small volumes than not sell at all.
He added that the sporadic flow of the leaf to auction flows is as a result of poor prices; therefore, farmers are withholding the leaf hoping that prices will pick up.
“It is my plea to tobacco market operators that they should look at this issue and help farmers so that the leaf fetches good prices because farmers need to be happy with how their crop is being priced so that they return to the farm next season,” he said.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.