Malawi Government yesterday said it is optimistic about this year’s tobacco marketing season due to start next week because demand projections of the leaf now correspond with the country’s estimated production.
Speaking in an interview after President Joyce Banda met tobacco buyers at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security James Munthali said government met the sector’s players to assess their preparedness for the marketing season.
Lilongwe Auction Floors will be the first to open on Monday, followed by Chinkhoma on March 25, Limbe on March 26 and later Mzuzu Auction Floors.
Commenting on anticipated tobacco prices, Munthali said government expects buyers to adhere to government set minimum prices which, according to authorities, average $1.76 (about K740) per kilogramme for all grades of burley tobacco.
Speaking on behalf of the buyers, who included Malawi Leaf, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Limbe Leaf Tobacco, Alliance One managing director Hugh Saunders said they expect good quality tobacco this year because of the Integrated Production System (IPS).
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Bruce Munthali, speaking after meeting the President, said the country expected to produce 167 million kilogrammes of burley tobacco, 21 million kilogrammes of flue cured and three million kilogrammes of dark- fired tobacco.
The TCC chief said demand for burley is expected to range between 150 million and 160 million kilogrammes, slightly below the projected production for the leaf, however, demand for the other tobacco types corresponds with production.