Malawi earned $330.9 million [K149 billion, at the current exchange rate] from tobacco exports between July and December 2013, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said.
The tobacco industry regulator has since described the figure as a significant improvement if compared to what the country earned during the same period last year.
The figure, according to TCC, accounts for 60 percent of total earnings from tobacco exports in 2013, according to TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali.
He told Business News yesterday that tobacco exports to the international market earned the country $543 million [K244 billion] in 2012.
“These figures show that tobacco still remains the number one export crop as it continues to contribute about 60 percent of Malawi’s total export earnings and where government derives 25 percent of total tax base,” said Munthali.
If injected at once into the foreign exchange market, the $330.9 million could help the country import goods and services for close to two months.
The country consumes $188.1 million [K84 billion] worth of foreign exchange per month, according to the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).
Munthali said the average price that fetched Malawi tobacco exports between July and November last year was $4.13 [K185] per kilogramme (kg).
He said such an average price was a significant jump from an average price of $3.45 [K155] per kilogramme that fetched Malawi tobacco exports in 2012.
According to Munthali, Malawi tobacco is mainly exported to Europe, South East Asia, North America, Middle East and some north African countries.
Commenting on this year’s production, the TCC boss said it is expected that Malawi’s tobacco output will increase modestly in 2014 as compared to last year’s production.
Malawi sold 168.6 million kilogrammes of tobacco in 2013 as compared to 80 million kilogrammes sold the year before, representing a 111 percent increase.
The final average price for 2013 marginally declined to $2.14 per kg from an average price of $2.22 recorded in 2012, representing a four percent decrease.
Directly, tobacco is employing 12 percent of Malawi population and contributes 13 percent to gross domestic product (GDP).