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Tobacco sales start in Limbe

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The first day of tobacco marketing at Limbe Auction Floors saw most bales fetching not less than $1 per kilogramme amidst dissatisfaction from a few growers.

The Limbe auction opened yesterday with the highest price on the auction sale being $1.45 per kilogramme while the lowest price was $0.80 per kilogramme as at 10am.

On the other hand, quality leaf fetched the highest price of $2 per kilogramme on the contract market while the lowest price was $0.90 per kilogramme.

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However, some growers felt the price of $0.80 was very unfair and too low.

But officials from both Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) and AHL Group dismissed the growers, saying the tobacco that is fetching $0.80 per kilogramme is bottom leaf and non-graded.

TCC Acting Chief Executive Officer David Luka said the $0.80 leaf is the very bottom leaf and has no grade at all.

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“To say that $0.80 is too low is a lie. This tobacco does not even have a grade and we are talking of the leaf being bought at around K600 per kilogramme.

“The problem with our growers is that they do not understand the classification and grading system that takes place within the tobacco industry,” Luka said.

He, however, said while Lilongwe and Chinkhoma had good quality leaf on the first day, Limbe was a little bit below par.

“The quality is not that good here compared to the other two markets. But all in all, the market has started well compared to last year and we hope the trend continues,” he said.

Luka further urged growers to avoid putting non-tobacco related materials in their bales.

On the other hand, AHL Group General Manager (Tobacco Sales) Moses Yakobe said the leaf that is being bought at $0.80 deserves the price.

He said most of the leaf that fetched that price was unclean.

“If you look around, you will find that the same leaf which has been cleaned is fetching upwards of $1 and a real grower knows how to clean the bottom leaf to earn more. We believe most of this unclean leaf has been brought by intermediate buyers,” Yakobe said.

He further said the market has started on a good note compared to last year when the rejection rate was above 60 percent on the first day.

“The rejection is at about one percent today, which is a positive sign. If you also go around the floors, you will not find no sale bales, which was not the case last year,” he said.

The tobacco marketing season for this year opened two weeks ago in the Central Region.

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