The Tobacco Commission (TC) has expressed worry over the poorly graded tobacco that growers are presenting to the market.
The worry comes barely a week into this year’s tobacco selling season which started on Monday.
TC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the commission has observed with great concern that some growers are bringing to the market bales that contain tobacco leaves of different leaves, colours and plant positions.
Sadala added that other growers are mixing mouldy and none mouldy tobacco in the same bale.
“We have seen water-stained and none water-stained tobacco in the same bale. Some growers are mixing bottom leaves with upper stalk leaves,” Sadala said.
The TC boss said farmers stand to make huge losses due to poorly handled, graded and presented tobacco as the leaf fetches low prices and in some cases attract extra costs when the tobacco is returned for rehandling.
He said growers who need assistance in grading could contact agriculture extension workers, Aret extension workers, tobacco buyers’ leaf technicians, licenced commercial graders or TC.
“Growers are further reminded that the minimum bale weight is 25 kgs and transportation rate is per kg per kilometer. In this case, every grade can be baled separately and transport cost will be based on weight and distance,” Sadala said.
Minister of Agriculture, Francis Kasaila, also expressed worry over the way growers are grading their tobacco when he visited the Lilongwe Auction Floors on Monday.
As at the close of business on Thursday, the green gold had raked in $2.8 million from 1.8 million kgs of the crop at an average price of $1.55.
Last year, Malawi realised $1.6 million from tobacco sales in the first week of the season.