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Tobacco estimates slashed to 193 million kgs

By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

Preliminary results of the third and final round tobacco crop estimate point to a possible drop of the leaf’s output this year, The Daily Times has learnt.

Figures we have seen show that the country is estimated to have produced 193.5 million kilogrammes (kg) of the leaf, down from the initial 205 million kg estimate.

This might influence tobacco prices on the market, currently in its sixteenth week.

Last year, the country realised $336 million dollars after selling 202 million kgs of all types of tobacco.

Tobacco buyers earlier pledged to buy 151 million kgs of the leaf in this season.

Tobacco Commission (TC) Corporate Planning and Development Manager, Hellings Nasoni, said the commission was yet to release official results of the estimates tobacco stakeholders conducted a few weeks ago.

Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) said the drop was not surprising.

While saying they were yet to be furnished with the official estimates, Tama Chief Executive Officer, Felix Thole, said the situation might be attributed to harsh weather conditions experienced in some parts of the country this season.

“This caused leach-down of nutrients that resulted into loss of crop weight,” Thole said.

He also lamented low prices the leaf has been fetching in the past season, saying some farmers were frustrated.

African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) Chief Executive Officer, Felix Lombe, said the development was expected and predicted a further decline in the next few years.

“Possibly, we should expect reduction by 25 percent in the next three years because farmers are frustrated with price and overall income from the crop and the regulatory framework is not even in their best interest. Ideally low supply should have culminated into higher price and income but tobacco doesn’t work that way,” Lombe said.

Meanwhile, t h e country has realised $183,146,058.88 from sales of 123,208,322 kgs of tobacco at an average price of $1.45.

The value is 29 percent lower than $257,083,140.54 earned during same time last year while the volume are 16 percent shy of the 147,339,725 kgs sold during same time last year at an average price of $1.74.

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