Chinese tobacco company, Sino-ma Tobacco International, is looking forward to buying more volumes of dark-fired tobacco from Malawi this year, the firm’s director Chen Haojia has said.
The company, which has just been registered by Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), is set to participate in this year’s tobacco market.
In a brief interview with Business News, Haojia said they are looking at adding value to Malawi tobacco, as they are planning to set up a cigarette manufacturing plant.
“Equipment is ready and right now we are looking for land and we estimate that we will be manufacturing three million cigarettes per day,” he said.
Apart from Sino-ma, other new tobacco companies that will buy Malawi leaf this year include Africa Tobacco Services and Alfarid Tobacco Company.
TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali said yesterday that Sino-ma will also be buying burley and flue-cured tobacco apart from dark-fired.
He said it is pleasing that the Chinese company intends to purchase more dark-fired tobacco, whose volumes have been low over the years.
Said Munthali: “Generally, demand for dark-fired tobacco is high and there is a huge global deficit, so this is a plus to the Malawi economy.”
He said this year, the country was expected to produce four million kilogrammes (kg) of the variety, but TCC expects the volume to drop to 1.6 million kg.
Munthali said the coming in of new tobacco companies on the market will create more jobs and competition.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza said government is concerned with the country’s poor showing in adding value to tobacco as a way of increasing export earnings.
He said they have engaged an extra gear to diversify agricultural exports to increase Malawi’s resilience on the impact of unstable prices in the global economy by promoting a basket of commodities.
Tobacco has traditionally been Malawi’s main export earning crop and contributes about 60 percent to export earnings and accounts for 13 percent of the national economy.