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Tobacco first assessment expected out soon

The first assessment for the 2016/17 tobacco season is expected out any time soon, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said.

Tobacco remains the country’s largest foreign exchange earner, but over the years, its performance has not been up to standard.

TCC Deputy Chief Executive Officer, David Luka, said the commission already did nursery assessments and early this month, they had carried out the first assessment.

“We are expecting the results for the first assessment results to be released by close of this week or early next week,” Luka said.

He, however, could not be drawn to comment on the outlook of the crop, considering the overproduction the country experienced last season.

“The results themselves will tell. Let us just wait,” he said.

However, reports from some farmers indicate that most farmers have either reduced the quotas or have not grown the crop.

Elias Tambula, from Chitukula in Lilongwe, said he has given tobacco a break and opted to grow other crops like soya beans and groundnuts.

“I had a bad season last year with tobacco hence my decision to plant other crops. Farming is what I know, if things improve this year for tobacco, I grow it again next year,” he said.

A Zomba-based farmer, Demius Pelekamoyo, said these days, tobacco growing is a game of chance.

He said usually he produces 15 bales, but this year he has reduced his production.

“I am just giving it a try this year and hope to produce between five to seven bales,” he said.

The 2015/16 season saw the country earning $276.3 million from 195 million kilogrammes of tobacco.

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