Tobacco growers at the country’s auction floors have earned themselves and the country only US$4.3 million from sales of tobacco in the opening two weeks of the market, figures from the Tobacco Control Commission have shown.
The amount is 180 percent less than the total realised in the first two weeks of trading last year when about US$12.1 million had been earned.
The fall in earnings realised in the opening two weeks of this year’s sales could be attributed to reduced volumes that have passed through the floors as compared to last year.
In the first two weeks of sales last year, the market traded 8.6 million kilogrammes while this year, the market has traded only 3.9 million.
Of the volume sold this year, 3.7 million kilogrammes is burley tobacco while the remaining 211,771 is flue cured tobacco.
On average, a kilogramme of tobacco is this year selling at US$1.11 as compared to US$1.40 a kilogramme of the green gold attracted during the same period last year.
The reduced volumes traded this year could be attributed to high rejection rates of over 50 percent per day, especially on auction tobacco.
Last week, Agriculture Minister George Chaponda blamed tobacco buyers for the high rejection rates at the market.
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Chief Executive Officer, Albert Changaya, expressed optimism that the market will stabilise in the coming weeks as the market is now flooded with tobacco brought forward by the intermediaries.
“Quality especially on the first day has been poor because it has been characterised by mixtures in one bale. The outlook would be better as this time most of the markets are dominated by the intermediate buyers,” said Changaya.