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Tobacco buyer leaves Lilongwe farmers impatient

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About three weeks after the Lilongwe Auction Floors were opened for tobacco sales, one of the buyers, Voedsel Tobacco Company, is yet to come to the market, leaving farmers impatient.

Some farmers stormed the premises on Monday, demanding that Voedsel start buying the crop, forcing the temporarily closure of the Auction Floors.

Normal business, however, resumed on Tuesday.

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Auction Holdings Limited (AHL) spokesperson Teresa Ndanga said the floors were not affected by the suspension.

She, however, indicated that AHL would be waiting for action from the Tobacco Commission.

“They [farmers] have some contacts with some of the buyers that have not yet started buying the tobacco and they have taken those issues to the Tobacco Commission (TC).

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“There are several issues and they are looking forward to Tobacco Commission, as the regulator, to address those concerns,” she said.

TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga confirmed that Voedsel is the buyer that is yet to come to the market.

He said the farmers had agreed with the buyer after due process but that the buyer was yet to come to the market.

“We are engaging them (the buyer) and the situation is under control. One of our jobs as a commission is to arbitrate, bringing sides together,” Chidanti Malunga said.

One of the farmers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Times that some farmers entered into a contract with the buyer but did not know when sales would start.

According to the law, farmers are prohibited from selling the crop to another buyer unless the arbitration process has been done.

President Lazarus Chakwera opened the Lilongwe Auction Floors on April 20 this year.

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