Tobacco sales at Mzuzu Floors will start today [Wednesday] amid low tobacco inflows due to harsh weather the Northern Region experienced in the past three weeks.
The Mzuzu market opens against the background of poor prices and high rejection rates at Lilongwe, Limbe and Chinkhoma floors in Kasungu particularly for tobacco sold under the traditional auction system.
Last week, the rejection rate hovered around 70 percent with buyers offering between 80 cents (K553) and $1.20 (K830) per kilogramme (kg).
But as of Monday, the rejection rate at the Kanengo Floors had slightly improved to between 55 percent and 60 percent, according to Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Albert Changaya.
He said in an interview on Monday the Mzuzu market has delayed to open due to low inflow of the leaf.
Changaya said currently, the market has recorded about 4 000 bales which is lower than expected.
He said tobacco transporters could not access some rural areas because the roads were impassable due to rains, which has further contributed to the low inflows of tobacco.
“Although we have been faced with these challenges which have led to delays, the Mzuzu market will be opened on Wednesday by Minister of Agricuture [Irrigation and Water Development] George Chaponda,” said Changaya.
He advised all farmers to properly grade their leaf to minimise the rejection rates.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Graham Kunimba on Monday said while the growers were ready with the crop, the rains disturbed the delivery process.
“Our farmers could not deliver their crop to the floors in time as the weather was not conducive,” he said.
This year’s tobacco marketing season opened at Lilongwe floors on April 13 2016.
Tobacco, which is Malawi’s main foreign exchange earner, brought in $337.4 million (K233 billion) in revenue last year, which was eight percent down from the year before.n