By Patience Lunda:
The Tobacco Commission (TC) has so far registered farmers who are expected to produce at least 30 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco out of the targeted 140 million kg for the next production season.
The registration and licensing process which started in June this year is expected to end in September.
Speaking when inspected progress of the exercise in Mzuzu, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lomwe said he was impressed with the process, saying he expects the farmers to meet the market demand this farming season.
The country failed to meet the 150 million kg market demand for the leaf in the just ended season, having sold about 85 million kg.
Lowe then urged the tobacco farmers to strive for quality when producing their leaf and desist from obtaining non-tobacco related loans as that affects them as well as the country’s forex base.
“Registration marks the beginning of a season and we are looking for a wonderful season because Malawi will not remove tobacco in the forex equation so we are trying to promote the crop so that we can gain the required forex,” he said.
During the inspection, some tobacco farmers complained of network challenges during the registration exercise.
But TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga downplayed the concern, saying the problem was not as grave.
Malunga added that the numbers of that registering will likely increase by the end of this month adding the exercise ends in September.
“The registration exercise has not been affected and right now, registration is at peak and we expect more to come,” he said.
The 2022 tobacco marketing season officially closed on August 12 with tobacco, Malawi’s top export crop, raking in over $181 million compared to $194.9 million which was realised last year.