The Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) has said failure by some farmers to grow tobacco this year would lead to the country failing to meet even half of the demand from leaf buyers.
Speaking during the launch of annual area meetings for tobacco industry stakeholders in Mzimba on Saturday, Tama president Reuben Maigwa said many farmers have been discouraged from growing the crop because of poor prices and leaf rejections at the auction floors last year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is very little tobacco in the fields. It is doubtful that we will produce even half of the quantity that buyers [want] this year,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Maigwa.
He said poor early rains have also affected some farmers whose tobacco seedlings died in the fields due to some dry spell after being transplanted from nurseries.
TamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fears come at the time the country is experiencing acute shortage forex which is mainly generated by tobacco sales.
Last year, farmers overproduced burley tobacco by about 47 million kilogrammes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We all know that tobacco is number one forex earner. This will definitely affect the economy,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Maigwa.
TCC technical and operations manager Fred Kamvanzina said this year tobacco buyers have indicated to buy about 160 million kilogrammes of burley tobacco, 15 million kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco and about 4 million kilogrammes of dark fired leaf.