Limbe Auction Floors officially opened for tobacco sales on Monday with the best quality leaf fetching $2.32 (K928) per kilogramme (kg) while the lowest was priced at 90 cents (about K360) per kg.
But a farmer from Phalombe, Stephano Thomas, was a bit worried with the prices, arguing that it could have been better if the least priced leaf was sold at $1.50 (K600) per kg.
Kanengo Auction Floors in Lilongwe was the first to open last Monday with a maximum leaf fetching $2.20 (K880) per Kg while Chinkhoma Auction Floors in Kasungu, the highest price was $2.35 (K894) per Kg.
So far, in all three markets, the lowest priced leaf was sold at 90 cents per kg which is the minimum set price.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Professor Peter Mwanza, who officially opened the sales, said he was pleased with this year’s opening prices which, he said, would ensure that farmers benefit from their labour.
“What we were all mainly concerned about is the prices that farmers must get for their crop. The prices I have seen here are very good. Some of the prices are over $2 per kg which is unprecedented and most of the prices are higher than the minimum price,” he said.
He said farmers are not complaining, adding that as government, they want growers to benefit from their labour.
Mwanza said in so doing, the country also benefits because tobacco is the main crop that brings in foreign exchange earnings.
The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) public relations officer Juliana Chidumu was also pleased with the tobacco prices, arguing that such prices will yield good revenue.
She said the prices have improved significantly from those of last year, with the average price at $1.25 (K500) up from last year’s $1.03 (K412).
Chidumu said as of last week, 2.5 million kg of tobacco has been sold, compared to one million kg sold during the same period last year, representing a 106 percentage rise.