The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) said despite dry spells hitting some parts of the country; the uptake of flue cured tobacco has been impressive in most of the districts in the Southern Region.
TCC chief executive officer Dr Bruce Munthali in an interview on Thursday attributed this to the fact that flue cured, grown by large estates, is dry planted.
On the other hand, he said, burley, the preserve of a majority of smallholder farmers, is at the moment doing well in the Northern Region where, he said, rains have been falling evenly.
“The flue cured tobacco looks better than last year, particularly in Zomba, Machinga and Namwera in Mangochi. We are very impressed. The difference between flue cured and burley is that burley is rain fed while flue can be dry planted,” he said.
Munthali is hopeful that burley will also pick up in some parts of the country because the distribution of rains has lately improved and most of the farmers have transplanted.
He said TCC officials will soon conduct a nationwide preliminary assessment of the leafÃ¢â‚¬â€that contributes about 60 percent to MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s foreign currency revenueÃ¢â‚¬â€to gauge how it is fairing in the fields.
Munthali said the tobacco industry was worried with dry spells at the onset, but now things have improved.
Commenting on the merit sale, the final sale of all tobacco that might have been rejected during the season, which failed to take place last year, he said this was because of some operational challenges especially those handling the crop.
According to TCC, the country expects to produce between 150 million kilogrammes and 160 million kilogrammes in line with global trade requirements.
This will be a 32 percent drop from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s output of 235 million kilogrammes.
To control production to this level, the TCC has introduced quotas that will enable farmers to grow the crop based on allocated land size.
Malawi tobacco growers have over the years been producing more than 200 million kilogrammes of the leaf which contributes about 13 percent to the national economy.
Experts argue that whenever tobacco is overproduced, the prices normally go down because demand is largely suppressed.
This year, Malawi has realised $293 million (K49 billion) from the sale of the leaf, a 30 percent drop from the previous yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $416 million (K69.8 billion).