Tobacco sales were disrupted at Mzuzu Auction Floors on Thursday morning when farmers protested the increase in number of no-sale bales, pushing the rejection rate from 23 percent on Wednesday to 65 by yesterday.
The rejection rate resonates with those of Kanengo, Chinkhoma and Limbe Floors casting doom on the country’s economic future as tobacco is the main forex earner.
The Daily Times visit at the floors found some farmers shouting at buyers while others stood helplessly looking at their rejected bales.
Tobacco Control Commission Northern Division Manager, Paul Mwambagi, confirmed the rejection rate but said the reasons are known to the buyers.
“It is true that through the Auction, 785 bales were on stock but very few have been sold. In general it is 64.5 percent rejection rate. There are a number of reasons that led to no-sale bales but I will not be able to say because buyers are better placed to respond. On top of that we are not responsible to release information of TCC,” said Mwambagi.
However, one of the farmers from Mzimba, Edson Lweya, expressed concern over the no-sale arguing that farmers will incur huge losses.
Lweya who brought 36 bales but only sold 4 said it is very expensive to be lodging in Mzuzu waiting for another day to sell the rejected bales.
“As farmers we don’t know why
the buyers are killing us like that. Their prices are too low and many bales have been rejected. The number of rejected bales is huge than those being sold,” Lweya said.
And Godfrey Khamba of Chimphakasa Estate from Dwangwa said the lower prices have also affected farmers that were on contracts with the buyers.
Khamba said farmers on contracts were promised to be offered US$2. 20 per kilogramme but argued that many bales have been sold at 80 cents which is contrary to what they were promised.
“I am really down with the prices the buyers have offered us today. We do not know what we are going to pay our tenants because the prices are too low. Farmers on contracts were promised fair prices not what we are getting today. I have not been offered anything above US$140 per bale today. How are we going to contribute to the country’s development with such poor prices?” queried Khamba.
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