Tobacco farmers cried foul Wednesday as the Limbe Auction Floors was opening, lamenting slow start of the market which was characterised by low prices and high no sale rate.
The farmers we spoke to prayed for a temporary closure of the market until their grievances were resolved.
The market was opened by Deputy Minister of Agriculture Madalitso Kambawuwo Wilima where it was discovered that the leaf was fetching $0.90 and $2.70 based on quality.
Tobacco Association of Malawi President Abiel Kalima Banda confirmed the fears, indicating that even though farmers are ready with their tobacco, the prices are discouraging.
“Buyers are sticking to the minimum price but they are saying that the benchmark of the minimum price is the cost of production. But the cost of production has heavily risen yet the minimum price hovers around the same figures which we, as farmers are not happy with,” he said.
In an interview, Kambawuwo- Wilima, however, said she was impressed with the beginning of the market arguing that the leaf is being bought based on the quality.
“These are the prices that are based on the quality of the leaf being offered. These are actually good prices because the tobacco is being sold above the minimum prices and if the farmers are not happy it is because of the quality not the prices being offered,” she said.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.