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Tobacco earns $5.7 million

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Hopes are high over this year’s tobacco market after the country realised $5.7 million dollars from sales of the green gold in the first week.

AHL Group has indicated that the earnings were from 4.4 million kilogrammes of tobacco sold through the Lilongwe and Chinkhoma Auction floors at an average price of $1.30.

Mark Ndipita, AHL Group Corporate Affairs Manager, said the development means volumes sold and proceeds realised this year in week one are higher compared to the amount earned during the same period last year.

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“In the 2017 marketing season, we sold 1.3 million kilogrammes realising $1.8 million at an average price of $1.35 per kilogramme,” he said.

But, although more tobacco has been sold in the period under review, prices offered for the leaf in the first week of marketing were better in 2017.

Now, expectations are high that the country will realise more from tobacco sales this year owing to low supply against a high demand for the green gold.

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Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) earlier indicated that Malawi has this year produced 147.8 million kilogrammes of tobacco against a demand of 171 million kilogrammes.

Meanwhile, tobacco growers at Limbe Auction Floors were all smiles on Monday morning following good tobacco prices offered by buyers on the opening day of the market.

During the opening of the market, prices for auction burley tobacco were between $0.80 and $1.70 per kilogramme, while minimum prices for contract tobacco was at $1.10 and the highest was $2.45 per kilogramme.

Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Mwanamvekha, said the market had started on a good note and was optimistic that the prices would continue to improve.

He said the ministry is contemplating naming and shaming buyers who constantly offer low prices to growers.

“We want to see growers getting value for their money; hence, we might go public by naming those buyers who constantly offer low prices. We have data showing which companies have for the past five years been offering the same prices.

“We might decide to go public with the information so that growers and the general popular should know, who is doing what. We would like to be transparent as normally happens on the money market or the stock exchange,” he said.

Mwanamvekha said prices are expected to be good this year, considering that supply is low.

He said the good prices on offer are not only being attributed to the low supply but other factors such as quality.

“There are a number of factors contributing to the good prices and they include increased minimum wage, low inflation and high demand,” Mwanamvekha said.

Commenting on the prices, Alice Sande, a grower from Zomba, said she was happy with the prices being offered.

“The market has started very well with good prices considering that the leaf that is here today is bottom leaf. It is our prayer that the prices should be maintained up to the end of the marketing season,” Sande said.

Another grower, Nkalo Nyalugwe from Machinga, whose tobacco fetched the highest price, said the prices offered by buyers this year are very encouraging.

“The prices are good. This was supposed to be the case because we, as growers, labour a lot to produce good quality leaf. I can openly say that this might be one of the best years, when growers will be able to make a profit,” he said.

This year’s tobacco marketing season was opened at Kanengo Auction Floors in Lilongwe on April 9.

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