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Tobacco Commission gears up for tobacco sales

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Joseph Chidanti Malunga

Tobacco industry regulator, the Tobacco Commission (TC), has said preparations for the early opening of this year’s marketing season later this month are at an advanced stage.

However, TC was yet to announce dates for starting tobacco sales this year.

Unlike the previous years when tobacco sales started after March, this year’s tobacco marketing season is expected to open early in the economic interest of growers, whose tobacco will be ready this month.

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TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said at the weekend the licensing of key stakeholders was expected to be finalised by March 11.

Last week, TC met the country’s floors operator, AHL, in readiness for the marketing season.

Chidanti-Malunga said the commission was expected to announce dates for the opening of tobacco markets within the week.

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He said among those whose licensing TC is finalising are commercial graders, hessian schemes operators, transporters and AHL.

He said TC is confident of successful business operations at the floors following AHL’s assurance of the group of companies’ preparedness.

“Based on the reported progress of preparations by the key stakeholders, we are ready for this year’s marketing season,” Chidanti-Malunga said.

In February this year, TC said it was evident that the late onset of rainfall this season would affect tobacco production, hence the need to provide an opportunity to growers ready with their leaf in March to get their proceeds early as well.

Tobacco has for long remained Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner. However, in recent years, earnings from tobacco have remained subdued due to weak demand fueled by the global anti-smoking lobby.

Last year, President Lazarus Chakwera challenged the Ministry of Agriculture to start hunting for other crops that could replace tobacco as the backbone of Malawi’s economy.

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