Revenue from tobacco, Malawi’s top export crop, hit $194.2 million, figures from Tobacco Commission (TC) show.
The revenue has been realised from 131,083,157 kilogrammes (kg) of all types of tobacco sold at an average of $1.48 per kg.
During the same time last year, average prices were seen at $1.74.
The earnings are 28 percent lower than the $271,355,270.10 realised within first 16 weeks of sales last year.
The volume traded has also gone down by 16 percent from 155,928,982 kg.
The trend poses a threat of a possible drop of value of the leaf this year.
In its Monetary Policy Report, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) recently projected this year’s tobacco revenue to be 11 percent lower than last year.
RBM projects the revenue at $303.5 million this year from $337.5 million.
This also comes as third-round crop estimates projected that tobacco output would drop to 193 million kg from an earlier 205 million kg estimate.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), a growers’ representative body, said market prices are subdued this season
Tama Chief Executive Officer, Felix Thole, said farmers might not reap the most of their effort this season due to low prices.
“Prices have remained stagnant. Reasons for this could basically be two; one the over buying of the crop last season and the envisaged bigger volume than demanded this year,” Thole said.
Last year, the country realised $336 million from the sale of 202 million kg of all types of tobacco.
The tobacco industry plays a critical role in the country’s economy.
The crop contributes roughly about 13 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.