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Tobacco earnings now at $264 million

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Malawi has so far realised a total of $264.6 million from tobacco sales since the start of this year’s marketing season in April, latest figures from AHL Group indicate.

The statistics also show that a total of 183.7 million kilogrammes of the green gold have been sold at an average price of $1.44 per kilogramme.

The development means that over 90 percent of this year’s tobacco has gone through the market which has since entered its 32nd week.

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By close of the market within 25 weeks last season, the country realised $337.4 million from 193 million kilogrammes traded at an average price of $1.75 per kilogramme.

Experts rated this year’s tobacco marketing season as one of the most challenging. The season, which is the longest in history, has been characterized by high rejection rates, hitting 99 percent at some point, coupled with low prices offered for the leaf.

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Deputy Chief Executive Officer, David Luka, last week attributed positive outcomes from the floors to a decision to abolish government set minimum prices.

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He said the season faced many challenges due to the excess tobacco that came about due to over production. The situation forced authorities to extend the market to exhaust tobacco still at the floors.

But, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) President, Rueben Maigwa, said the extension was an inconvenience to most farmers who will find challenges preparing for the next season.

He said despite a relative improvement in prices for the leaf, there has been uncertainty over quality for the commodity in the coming season as farmers have divided attention.

“We are already in the field and sales are on-going. This is a threat to productivity, especially to the farmers that are yet to sale their tobacco as it will compromise productivity. Further, most of the farmers do not have enough money to buy farm inputs,” Maigwa worried.

Malawi is still clinging to tobacco as its major forex earner despite challenges facing tobacco marketing globally.

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