Number of farmers willing to grow tobacco during the 2020/21 season has decreased by 15 percent, figures from regulator, Tobacco Commission (TC), show.
By September 30, 2020, the initial closing day for registration of tobacco farmers this season, the commission registered and allocated quotas to 45,000 farmers compared to 53,000 farmers who grew the green gold last season.
TC has since extended the registration period to October14, 2020 in an attempt to woo more growers to register.
In an interview Wednesday, TC Planning and Research Manager, Hellings Nasoni, said the commission extended the period to accommodate farmers who were to register during the given period.
“The commission extended 2020/2021 grower registration and licensing period to October 14 in order to give chance to more growers who are not yet licensed. The consolidated number of growers will be released at the end of the registration period.
“The Commission is also consolidating demand for 2020/2021 season and will be released soon,” Nasoni said.
In a separate interview, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Farmers Trust president, Abiel Kalima Banda, attributed the drop in number of farmers to frustration with trends during the just ended selling season.
“This year production was reduced because farmers were also frustrated on the market in 2019. So the average price might have increased but farmers did not earn enough to produce tobacco again. I expect that next year we will produce low volumes?” Banda said.
This year, tobacco raked in $173.5 million (about K130 billion), about 27 percent lower than the $237 million earned in the preceding season.
The country sold a total of 112.89 million kgs of tobacco last season from 165.67 million kgs traded a season before.