The Tobacco Commission (TC) has announced a delay in the opening of the tobacco market season in adherence to government decree to avoid the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
Addressing the media in Lilongwe on Wednesday, TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said the move is not a suspension of the market.
Said Sadala: “Government declaration has coincided with the opening of the 2020 tobacco market season whose gatherings are always above the allowable threshold [of 100].
“What will happen is that after observing the situation in the next 30 days, the industry will review the situation and make necessary recommendations to the government in terms of when the market can open”.
Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer Felix Thole said the decision was in the best interest of not only farmers but all industry players to ensure life is safeguarded.
According to the TC, consolidated trade requirement for 2020 marketing season stands at 161.4 million kilogrammes (kg) against the licensed volume of 173.4 million kg.
Tobacco accounts for the country’s 60 percent exchange earnings.
Last season, tobacco market officially opened on 25 April 2019 and closed on 27 September with an 18 percent decrease in volume sold summed at 165.6 million kilograms from 202 realised during the previous season.
Last year, tobacco raked in $237 million (about K175 billion), a drop of 29.8 percent from the previous year.