The tobacco market at the Mzuzu Auction Floors opened Monday on a higher note, with the highest quality leaf fetching as high as $2.10 on the auction market and $2.50 for contract farmers.
The lowest graded leaf was sold at $0.95.
Comparatively, this year’s sales on the first day were not very different from last year’s as, on average, the highest graded leaf was sold at $2.40 in 2021.
Mzuzu Auction Floors is the fourth and last floor to be opened in the 2021-22 tobacco market season, but, like the rest, was equally hit by low leaf supply on opening day like the rest.
A total of 1,598 bales were up for sale Monday, a drop from 2,498 bales which were on sale same day last year.
Speaking in an interview after opening the market, Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said he was happy with the prices buyers offered on opening day.
“I am happy to report here that buyers are buying above the minimum prices, which are very encouraging. And I had a few issues with some few buyers; we had some discussions after going through the floors as they were just giving the dot, which is the minimum price.
“So, they have agreed to revisit the prices so that they actually sell beyond the minimum prices. But, generally, the prices are very good,” he said.
However, as fears are growing that the high cost of agriculture inputs such as fertiliser would likely affect next year’s tobacco output, Lowe said they would make sure prices are better this year.
Tobacco Association of Malawi Farmers Trust President Abel Kalima Banda pleaded with the buyers not to stick to the minimum price which was set by the government.
“Adding on that; as the minister has said, to there will be several surprise visits. Let it be real because the buyers tend to relax. So, we are hoping that the prices will be stable because it is the responsibility of the government to make sure that the prices are better,” he said.
Just like Limbe, Lilongwe and Chinkhoma, Mzuzu Auction Floors’ sales will be managed depending on the availability of stock.