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New tobacco buyer enters market

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There is excitement among stakeholders in the tobacco industry that competition may intensify among buyers on the auction floors, leading to improved prices, following the licencing of a new buyer, Protrade.

The coming in of Protrade brings the number of tobacco buying firms on the market to 10.

Protrade becomes the first 100 percent Malawian owned company to buy tobacco on the local green gold market.

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Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday when he presented a buyer’s licence to Protrade, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said the local buying company gives authorities hope that the tobacco grower will now start enjoying the fruits of their sweat due to increased competition at tobacco selling floors.

“I pledge my full support towards the company’s off-take, growth and continued participation in the buying of tobacco on the selling floors,” Lowe said.

He urged the firm to understand the predicament the Malawian grower faces when selling tobacco on the market.

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Protrade Executive President Lodzani Fatch said the firm is geared to effectively compete with other existing players in the market for the green gold.

According to Fatch, the company targets to buy about 10 million kilogrammes of the green gold in its first year, before growing the volumes in subsequent years.

“We have already identified markets for Malawi tobacco. In addition, we intend to venture into cigarette making in the next two years,” Fatch said.

Last year, TC introduced another buyer from Serbia but up to now the buyer is yet to step into the market.

But TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the Serbian buyers were expressing interest in buying tobacco while Protrade has been licenced to buy and will start buying once the market commences.

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