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Low supply hits tobacco market

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Abiel Kalima Banda

Limbe Tobacco Auction Floors, which was supposed to open today, will open on April 20 as the leaf is not ready for the market in the Southern Region, Tobacco Commission (TC) has announced.

The tobacco-selling season started earlier than usual this year, a development the commission attributed to delayed rains, saying farmers incurred more costs which they need to recoup in good time.

According to a statement from TC Public Relations Officer Telephorous Chigwenembe, the decision to reschedule the opening of Limbe Auction Floors has been informed by industry indicators that suggest that growers in the Southern Region will be ready for the market in the third week of April.

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The statement adds that, starting this week, sales at Lilongwe floors, which opened last week, will be conducted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to match with current flow of tobacco to the market.

“This will be the case until the flow of tobacco to the floors requires that sales be conducted every day,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda said the developments are justified but have put farmers between a rock and a hard place.

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He said farmers have the leaf and they indeed want the money earlier but it would be hard for them to concentrate on the market and leave the other tobacco in the field.

“These developments will not affect the next farming season but what might affect the 2022-23 farming is if the tobacco will be bought at lower prices because in that way the extra costs which farmers incurred due to delayed rains will not be recouped,” he said.

Under normal circumstances, tobacco markets open late April starting with the Central Region then Southern Region then Northern Region.

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