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Tobacco estimates ready next week

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First-round tobacco estimates are expected to be released next week, regulator Tobacco Commission (TC) has said.

TC Corporate Planning and Development Manager Hellings Nason said the crop assessment exercise would be concluded on Friday this week.

“The estimates will be ready next week once the Ministry of Agriculture approves them,” Nason said.

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Some agricultural experts are projecting the country would have a good crop with a possible surge in output this season as rainfall patterns have been favourable in most tobacco-producing areas.

In a separate interview, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Chief Executive Officer Nixion Lita said the estimates would help farmers plan properly.

“Every industry uses the same estimates; therefore, we are just waiting for TC to release the results and then we will plan,” he said.

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During the 2019/20 season, the country raked in $173.5 million (about K130 billion), from tobacco, about 27 percent lower than the $237 million earned in the preceding season.

The country sold a total of 112.89 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco last season from 165.67 million kg traded a season before.

By far, tobacco remains Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner, although its share has been falling sharply in the past 10 years in response to changes in prices and weather conditions, and, most recently, due to the global anti-smoking campaign championed by the World Health Organisation.

Both tobacco revenue and output has been going down in the past decade.

In 2014, Malawi realised $361 million from sales of 192 million kg of all types of tobacco, which declined to $337 million in 2015. But output was static.

As at close of the 2018 marketing season, the country earned about $336 million against $212 million of 2017 after selling 106 million kg.

In 2019, the country sold 165.6 million kg of all types of tobacco, raking in $237 million.

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