Tobacco output to grow by 51%
Output for Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner, tobacco, is projected to leap by 51.4 percent this season to 128 million kilogrammes (kg) from 85 million kg the country produced last year.
The First Round Tobacco Estimates Report by regulator, the Tobacco Commission (TC), attributes the expected rise in volumes to better prices the leaf fetched last season, better rainfall this year, entry of new buying companies on the market and increased sponsorship by merchants.
According to the report, Burley tobacco production is expected to increase by about 54 percent from 69 million kg grown across the country last year to 106 million kg.
Output for FCV is expected to increase by 43 percent from 13 million kg last season to 18 million kg, while DFC output is expected to increase by 26 percent from 2.5 million kg to 3.2 million kg.
Comparatively, Kasungu division is projected to produce 24 million kg of all types of tobacco, Limbe is projected to produce 10 million kg, Mzuzu is projected to produce 30 million kg and Lilongwe is projected at 60 million kg.
In an interview Sunday, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) President Abiel Kalima Banda said it is good news that production has increased this year.
However, he said the government and buyers should make sure that tobacco is being bought at a reasonable price.
“The increase in production is an indication that farmers have invested a lot in farming. Therefore, it would be proper if the commodity will attract good prices this year.
“If the prices are low, it will be a clear indication that farmers will not grow tobacco again next year. This year, farmers have invested a lot and the buying price should tally with the effort made,” Banda said.
There have, however, been fears among some tobacco farmers over low output in some parts of the country due to heavy rains.
In the 2021 marketing season, cumulatively the country earned $197.1 million (about K160 billion) from tobacco sales, which was lower than $250 million that the country requires for its monthly import cover.
During the same year, the country sold 123.7 million kg of tobacco with the seasonal average price of all tobacco types was at $1.59 (about K1 295) per kg, compared to $1.53 (about K1 247) per kg recorded during the same period in 2020.