Stakeholders in tobacco industry have played down fears that the planned delayed opening of tobacco markets will work to the disadvantage of farmers, especially in maintaining quality of the leaf after harvest.
Tobacco Commission (TC) announced last week that opening of the market will be delayed with about 30 days due to the corona virus outbreak.
However, TC was quick to indicate that the 30-day period is an estimate but opening of the markets will depend on how the situation develops coupled with preparedness of other stakeholders in observing precautionary measures.
TC Corporate Planning and Development Manager, Hellings Nasoni, said it was too early to predict the impact of delayed market opening.
“The impact may be assessed if the delay goes beyond 30 days that we have put because we may open a little late but it may happen that we sell in large numbers within that short period.” Nason said.
In a separate interview Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Chief Executive officer, Felix Thole, said the delay is not new therefore, it does not pose a huge threat.
He recalled that in 2019, the market was delayed, and started towards the end of April but did not affect sales or preparations for following season.
“We are not sure how the situation will be at the end of the given period, it might be prolonged but the best thing for the farmer is to constantly check the tobacco and maintain quality,” Thole said.
Last year the country sold 165.6 million killogrammes of tobacco realizing $237 million at an average price of $1.43.
Tobacco remains the country’s major foreign exchange earner.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.