Malawi’s major export crop, tobacco, fetched over $34 million (K27.2 billion) at the end of the fourth week of sales, where 20.4 million kilograms (kg) have been sold, figures from the AHL Group show.
The earnings represent a 23.6 percent increase when compared to the $27.5 million (K22 billion) the country realised during the same period last year after selling 18 million kg of all types of tobacco.
The figures further, show that the average price this year has increased by 8.5 percent to $1.66 from $1.53 last year.
However, there has been an outcry among farmers over low prices buyers are offering, coupled with a rise in rejection rate.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) Trust Chief Executive Officer Nixon Lita rated the market performance this far as a mixed bag.
“We hope that with authorities’ engaging all buyers, there would be more buyers participating in the auction market, thus increased competition and reduced rejection rate,” Lita said.
But Tobacco Commission Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga recently told journalists that the commission was working to see growers earning the most out of their toil.
He said this could be attained by attracting more buyers, which will increase competition on the market.
“We want more buyers especially on the auction side. Talking to them, there are strong indications that they could come on the market this year,” Malunga said.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s top single foreign exchange earner. However, over the years, earnings from tobacco have been nose-diving, partly due to the global anti-smoking lobby coupled with the emergence of e-cigarettes.
Last year, Malawi produced 112.89 million Kg of tobacco and earned $173.5 million (about K130 billion) which was 27 percent below the $237 million realised in 2019.
This year, the country has produced 122 million Kg which is far below the 132 million trade requirement by international buyers.