The Tobacco Commission (TC) has announced that this year’s tobacco market will open next month, a departure from the norm of opening in April.
According to TC spokesperson Telephorous Chigwenembe, early opening is due to the delayed rainfall, which has made farmers incur more costs than in the past years.
He added that, due to the extra costs farmers have incurred, most of them would have to recoup their money faster for the operations and sustainability of the 2022-23 season.
“The actual dates for the opening are yet to be determined but other processes in preparation for the opening of the markets, such as determination of minimum prices, continue and they will be completed by next month so that we are able to open the marketing season,” he said.
The 2021-22 farming season has been met with unpredictable natural calamities which have disturbed its flow.
Such calamities include the delay of rains which started in end December rather than the normal pattern of November and the latest being Tropical Storm Ana, which has swept crops in fields.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Trust welcomed the development, saying early opening of the market would help farmers in easing financial burdens.
Tama Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda was, however, skeptical of a smooth run of the market, citing transportation hiccups and insufficient supplies of the green gold.
“Next month rains will still be heavy rendering some roads impassable. Therefore, I am wondering about how tobacco will reach safe roads and the other challenge is that the requirement is that a bail should carry a minimum of 25 kilogrammes I do not know if farmers will be able to supply such,” he said.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s top export and foreign currency earner.
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.