The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said it is optimistic tobacco prices will be high this year due to anticipated fall in volumes of the green gold.
Registration for tobacco growers closed on February 28 and a total of 126 million kilogrammes of tobacco is expected to be produced out of the 150 million kilogrammes required by growers.
TCC Acting Chief Executive Officer, David Luka, has since said the drop in the number of farmers growing tobacco this year will mean reduced supply on the market.
“We think this year we might have less production because with last year’s challenges, farmers lost interest and they did not even have the cash to go back to the fields.
“If we do not reach the quantity required, supply and demand law will apply where there is high demand and less supply prices are expected to pick up,” he said.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Erica Maganga, said the challenges that the previous tobacco season faced should be taken as a lesson for the country to put in place measures that will eradicate the challenges.
She further said illegal cross-border trade of tobacco is one of the constraints that make the country to lose forex.
“I appeal to TCC to start managing the crop size from the time farmers are registering all the way to the market. It is very important that the crop produced should match the demand or trade requirements, otherwise the problems in the tobacco industry will continue to manifest every year,” she said.
According to the first tobacco estimate survey conducted by TCC, there is a 30 percent decline of farmers growing tobacco