By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
With less than a week before end of the 2018 tobacco selling season, earnings from the country’s top export crop, tobacco, has jumped by 56.3 percent compared to last season.
Latest figures from market regulator, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), show that, as at the end last week, the country had realised about $332.187 million compared to the $212.514 million earned during same period last year.
As at Friday last week, the country had traded about 197 234 371 kilogrammes (kg) of all types of tobacco, an 85.1 percent jump from 106 536 815 kg traded last year.
At $1.68 per kg, average prices were, however, 15.5 percent lower than the $1.99 the leaf was fetching same time last year.
With the Mzuzu and Lilongwe auction floors expected to close today and on Friday, respectively, the current level of earnings far outweigh the $212 million realised during the entire season last year, thanks to improved production volumes.
In an interview yesterday, TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the market has generally been a success.
He said with no serious disruption at all markets, flow to the market has remained smooth.
“Overall, the season has been successful. In fact, there were no disruptions throughout as minor misunderstandings were amicably resolved. We are now [already] preparing for the next season to mitigate impact of possible challenges,” Sadala said.
Sadala attributed the low prices the leaf has been fetching to over production as the country produced above the 171 million kg international market demand.
Unlike in 2016 when the season extended up to late December due to market disruptions, the market has been largely smooth this year.
Tobacco has since the 1970s remained Malawi’s single top forex earner followed by sugar and tea.
With the green gold slowly losing its appeal on the international market due to the anti-smoking lobby, efforts to find a replacement for tobacco as a top forex earner have yielded no tangible results.