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Tobacco output increases this year

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Malawi expects higher output by its biggest export earner, tobacco, to rise by 38 percent to 147 million kilogrammes this year, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) said Monday.

But the increase is still lower than the projection of 149 million kilogrammes and 23.2 million kilogrammes shy of the current tobacco demand of 171 million kilogrammes.

TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the development has been perpetuated by erratic rainfall and unstable weather conditions that the country experienced in the 2017/18 season.

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“During the first estimates, the challenge that we faced is that of prolonged drought which affected the crop, especially in the Southern Region,” he said.

Sadala added that, when the rains resumed, they had a negative impact on the crop, especially in the Central Region, which received too much rains.

He said tobacco markets are expected to open on April 9, starting with Lilongwe Auction floors.

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“We anticipate that the markets will be opened on April 9 here in Lilongwe and we will move on to Chinkhoma on April 11, Limbe on April 16 and Mzuzu on April 23,” Sadala said.

Tobacco remains Malawi’s major foreign exchange earner. Revenue from the crop slumped last year by 23 percent to $212 million [about K155 billion] from $275 million [about K201 billion] realised in 2016

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