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Regulator upbeat on leaf sales prospects

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

LOSING MOMENTUM?—Tobacco

Tobacco Commission (TC) has said it is hopeful that sales of the country’s major forex earner, tobacco, would pick up from a slow down registered in the first weeks.

First six weeks of the sales were, to a great extent, characterised by low prices and reduced volumes sold on the market.

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Figures from the regulator show that revenue from the green gold went down by 35 percent in the first six weeks of trading this year compared to same time last year.

About 9.4 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco were sold in week six, bringing the tally of traded tobacco to 37.2 million Kg which is 25 percent lower than the 49.7 million Kg traded in the first six weeks of tobacco sales last year.

The volumes have raked in $51.5 million compared to the $79 million realised same period last year.

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The average price recorded in the week was $1.38.

TC Corporate Planning and Development Manager, Hellings Nasoni, said prices have been improving.

“This is a positive development. It is too early to project whether we will realise as much as the value of last year, as the market has some 10 weeks to go, which is a long period, enough to turn fortunes around.

“At current levels, it means there has to be huge increase in forthcoming weeks in order to catch up with 2018 figures,” Nasoni said.

With production estimated at 205 million kg, at the current average prices the projected revenue could be $282.9 million.

Last year, Malawi realised $330 million from the sale of 202 million Kg’s of the green gold.

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