The tobacco promotional trip that Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) officials embarked on in Egypt in April this year has borne fruits.
The Eastern Tobacco Company (ETC) of Egypt has shown interest to buy Malawi’s green gold, TCC has confirmed.
This follows interest by Iranian Tobacco Company (ITC), whose delegation was in the country in early November this year, to discuss with local tobacco industry players on the possibility of buying the country’s leaf.
TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali said in an interview on Tuesday the company has already passed on tobacco orders to some companies in the country.
He said the company is not only interested in buying the leaf, but also investing in secondary tobacco processing.
“The Egyptian company has shown interest in investing in tobacco threshing and cigarette manufacturing companies,” said Munthali.
He said, among other things, the company looked into Malawi’s good free child labour and agricultural practices before committing itself.
On the other hand, the Iranian firm hopes to expand its cigarette exports, value addition and production of less harmful products to satisfy its consumers and gain a suitable share in the global cigarette market.
Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Alfred Kapichira Banda said while the tobacco buying companies are sourcing more international markets, they should consider the plight of growers.
He said currently, the dwindling tobacco prices demoralise growers.
“The buyers buy our tobacco at very low prices without considering the rising cost of materials like fertiliser,” lamented Kapichira Banda.
The seven-member Egyptian company delegation that visited the country early this year for a tobacco market-orientation, also visited factories, among other places.
Tobacco still remains Malawi’s main foreign exchange earner and contributes about 13 percent to the national economy.