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Tobacco sales hit US$204 million

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Malawi government has said it has realised US$204 million through tobacco sales in 13 weeks higher from last year’s US$183 million during the same season.

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said this when he toured Mzuzu Auction Floors on Thursday.

“As government we cannot say we have excellent prices for tobacco this year because what farmers are saying at Chinkhoma is different from the comments at Limbe and Mzuzu floors. But we hope there is some improvement compared to the past two months” said Chiyembekeza.

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However, Chiyembekeza expressed concern over increased number of unsold bales at all floors in the country. On Thursday last week 37 percent of 860 bales at Mzuzu floors were not sold despite the good grades.

“I am shocked that the rejected number of bales here at Mzuzu Auction Floors is still increasing from 20 percent to 37 percent. This is not welcome to us and the farmers. We are soon going into round table discussions with buyers and we will carry the rejected leaf so that they explain to us the exact problem,” said Chiyembekeza.

Tobacco Control Commission Chief Executive Officer Bruce Munthali said the increased percentage of rejected bales at the floors is contrary to the Commission’s average standard of 10 percent.

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“This year we have sold 115 million kilogrammes of tobacco in 13 weeks and we are better compared to last year when same time we had 105 million kilogrammes. The prices are like the same only that the difference is the volume. If buyers were not rejecting our leaf, we would have been somewhere far,” said Munthali.

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