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Tobacco earnings drop in polls week

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

Tobacco trading slowed down last week, as Malawians voted in Tuesday’s tripartite elections, with the market registering a drop in both traded volume and earnings.

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Figures from the Tobacco Commission (TC) show that 5.5 million kilogramme (kg) of tobacco were sold during the week, compared to 9.8 million kg sold in the preceding week.

During week three, the country sold 8.6 million kg in week three and 5.9 million kg were sold in week two.

This means, since the start of the year’s selling season, the country traded the lowest amount of tobacco.

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During the week under review, the leaf was fetching $1.36 on average; the same amount it traded the previous week.

Meanwhile, the country has traded 27,792,178 of all types of tobacco since the start of sales on April 25, 30 percent lower than 39,836,540 kgs sold during the same time last year.

Earnings from the green gold have so far reached $37,737,425.99, which is 39 percent shy of the $62,042,270.71 earned during first five weeks of sales last season.

AHL Group Public Relations Manager, Tereza Ndanga, said the market operated for three days only last week.

This year’s selling season started slow, characterised by low prices and high rejection rate.

The situation, however, improved at the onset of trading.

In an earlier interview, Tobacco Association of Malawi Chief Executive Officer, Felix Thole, said, despite a slow start to the season, the country was going to realise, and might even surpass, the $330 million realised last year from tobacco sales.

The tobacco-selling season is critical for Malawi as it is the time economic activities reach a peak.

Second round crop estimates released by both the TC and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development have shown that Malawi is expected to produce 205.5 million kilogramme (kg) of tobacco this year.

The figure is, however, higher than the 152 million kg tobacco-buying companies intend to buy this year.

Last year, the country sold 202 million kg of tobacco, realising $330 million.

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