Tobacco output falls below demand


Malawi’s tobacco production for this year is estimated at about 149 million kilogrammes (kg), almost 12.8 percent less than international market demand, results of the first crop assessment have shown.

For the 2018 marketing season, buyers need 171 million kg of all types of tobacco.

This may still be good news to some tobacco growers as the leaf is likely to fetch better prices if buyers scramble for it.


Last year, the country grew about 124 million kg of all types of tobacco.

Regulator, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), has since attributed the situation to prolonged dry spells affecting some parts of the country, especially in the Southern and Central regions.

However, TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the commission is optimistic that the estimates were subject to change.


“At the time of assessment [in mid January], much of the crop, especially in the Southern Region, was affected by the dry spell. We are expecting that, with the advent of rainfall now, the picture should be different when we are doing the last crop assessment,” Sadala said.

Stakeholders are expected to conduct the second round assessment between February 26 and March 10 2018.

Over 41,000 farmers had registered to grow the leaf as of early December, with a total registered quota of 162 million kg.

Reacting to the development, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Chief Executive Officer, Matthews Zulu, said this indicates that there is a rise in production compared to last year, despite the estimates remaining lower than the market demand.

He said more precise figures may still come out after the next round of crop estimates expected next month.

“Definitely, we expect that farmers with good crop will have good prices. But quality of the leaf will still depend on the weather pattern,” Zulu said.

Revenue from the green gold slumped last year by 23 percent to $212 million [about K155 billion] from $275 [about K 201 billion] earned in 2016.

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