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Tobacco growers upbeat on prices

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With more than a week left before the start of this year’s tobacco selling season, growers of the green gold have expressed optimism that the leaf would fetch better prices.

The growers are banking their hopes on reduced tobacco output which is below the volumes demanded by international buyers in addition to improved quality of the leaf.

International buyers are looking for 171 million kilogrammes (kg) of all kinds of tobacco from Malawi this year. Second round tobacco crop estimate results show that the country will produce 147 million kg of the green gold, representing a 24 million kg shortfall.

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Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) said the deficit may result in increased competition for the leaf among buyers, resulting in better prices.

Tama Chief Executive Officer, Mathews Zulu, on Wednesday said growers anticipate a good marketing season.

“Because of the situation, we expect to get good prices as long as farmers bring quality tobacco, a thing which we are also confident of,” said Zulu.

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This year’s tobacco market is expected to start on April 9 with the opening of the Lilongwe Auction Floors. Limbe Auction Floors and Mzuzu Auction Floors will open on April 16 and April 23 respectively.

In an earlier interview, TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, pledged to bring sanity in the industry as one way of ensuring that growers reap the most from their effort.

Sadala said rebuilding the sector’s structures would help create resilience of the crop and efficiency of the market.

Revenue from the green gold slumped by 23 percent last year to $212 million [about K 155 billion] from $ 275 million [about K201 billion] earned in 2016.

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