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Tobacco transport charges up 40%

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Abiel Kalima Banda

By Patience Lunda

The Ministry of Agriculture has approved a 40 percent raise in tobacco transport charges in the wake of the recent fuel prices hike and the recent 25 percent devaluation of the Kwacha.

This means farmers will have to pay more when ferrying their tobacco to the auction floors.

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The upwards adjustment follows a consensus among stakeholders in the tobacco supply chain.

It also comes after a strike from June 23 by the Northern Region tobacco transporters, who refused to offload tobacco bales collected from districts, a thing which affected tobacco sales at the Mzuzu Auction Floors.

Tobacco Commission Public Relations Officer Telephorus Chigwenembe confirmed the development in an interview, saying it was in line with the commission’s recommendation.

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Chigwenembe said all stakeholders in the tobacco industry have been notified about the new rates.

“The government has indeed approved the new rates for the tobacco transporters and these are the ones that they were proposing. We have communicated with all concerned parties and these rates are effective from June 27, the day we had submitted the recommendation to the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.

The tobacco charge rates are determined on the number of bales, the tonnage of trucks and kilometres covered to collect the tobacco bales.

On his part, Samuel Nyasulu, a member of the Northern Region Tobacco Transporters Association, said they are waiting for communication from their leadership, adding that they are currently offloading using the old charge rates.

Reacting, Tobacco Association of Malawi Trust President Abiel Kalima Banda welcomed the adjustment, saying it reflects the situation on ground.

“There are other areas such as Nthalire where tobacco has not even made it to the auction floors because of the transport rates; so, this means that the transporters will be able to go to these areas and collect the tobacco,” he said.

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