Despite getting off to a poor start, tobacco sales at Limbe Auction Floors have seen an improvement with over two million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco sold in two weeks.
While confirming the improvement in quality of leaf, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) regional manager for the South, Willard Singo, however, bemoaned the lower than normal quantity of tobacco coming in as sales entered their third week.
“So far, we are not at full capacity largely because the farmers are not ready with all their tobacco. Most of the crop we have are mainly tobacco primings, so we expect more as some are still grading,” said Singo.
According to Singo, the South is expected to produce about 17 million kilogrammes of burley—lower than last year’s yield which was in excess of 20 million.
One of the farmers, Godfrey Muliya from Thumbwe in Chiradzulu, bemoaned the lack of parity between their input into the crop and the proceeds from the sales, appealing for higher prices but Singo pointed out that prices are determined by the quality of the leaf.
“We had some tobacco sold at $2.45 while the lowest has been $0.85.The difference lies in the quality. Better still, the prices for this week are improving because during the first week we averaged $1.22 but the second week’s average was $1.27.
The rejection rate for auctioned burley tobacco, which hovered around 29.3 percent, has also dropped from to 7.1 percent.
In these two weeks, a total of $2 660 385.72 was raised from the sale of 2 101 626 kilogrammes of tobacco, representing an average price of $1.27 per kilogramme.