A Malawian delegation which embarked on a tobacco promotional trip two weeks ago is back in the country with good news that the tour has yielded success.
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Bruce Munthali, who was among the delegation led by Agriculture Minister James Munthali, said in an interview that following the tour, potential buyers have asked Malawi tobacco merchants to submit samples of Malawi tobacco, especially burley variety.
Munthali said the promotional tour targeted Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the People’s Republic of China.
“This promotional tour has yielded achievements as we have managed to raise the visibility of Malawi tobacco in the countries we visited and there are positive signs that we may see tobacco exports demands increasing,” said Munthali in an interview in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
Munthali said following the tour, some foreign companies have also expressed interest to invest in Malawi in cigarette manufacturing with some seeking partnerships with local companies in venturing into cigarette manufacturing.
He declined to specifically mention the names of the companies saying that could jeopardise the deal.
“In some countries that we visited, we have even managed to sign a working cooperation arrangement aimed at up-scaling Malawi tobacco on the international market,” said Munthali.
Malawi currently has only one cigarette manufacturing company, Nyasa Manufacturing, a company which produces cigarette at small scale but is in the process of partnering with the government in a public private partnership arrangement which is expected scaling up its production.
On one hand, Malawi, which is ranked among the largest producers of burley tobacco in the world only has about seven tobacco buying companies.
Last year, the country sold 168.6 million kilogrammes of tobacco as compared to 80 million kg sold in 2012, representing a 111 percent increase.
The final average price for the year 2013 marginally declined to $2.14 from an average price of $2.22 cents recorded in 2012, representing a 4 percent decrease.
Directly, tobacco is employing 12 percent of Malawi population and also contributing 13 percent of Malawi Gross Domestic Product (GDP).