The Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has for the second time, extended the 2015/16 tobacco registration exercise to next Friday.
The exercise, which started last August and was expected to end in November 2015, was first extended by a month to November 31 2015 before being extended again to January 29.
Data collected for TCC shows that as of June 11 2015, the commission had registered 29 861 growers.
“Due to the number of growers yet to register and licence for the 2015-2016 marketing season, the commission has allowed for an extension that will run from January 11 2016 to January 29 2016. Those that have not registered or renewed their registrations are asked to complete before this period ends,” reads part of the statement issued on TCC website.
In an earlier interview, TCC technical and operations manager Fred Kamvazina attributed the low turnout of registrants to network challenges that the commission had been experiencing.
“Of course, we had network challenges at the start of the season for close to a month, which also affected the exercise, but we picked up when the problem was checked.
“We feel that we are having a decline in the numbers because some clubs are yet to pay for their registration hence we cannot include them on the registered list. The other reason could be that, perhaps, some farmers are pulling out of the system,” he said.
He, however, said that the development will not have any impact on tobacco production as farmers operate based on quotas.
Group corporate affairs manager Mark Ndipita said there may be many factors for the decline in the registration turnout.
“There may be a lot of explanations as to why growers are registering at such a pace, one of which may be is that farmers are busy finalising last season’s business as you are aware that the tobacco markets closed not long ago,” he said.
Meanwhile, TCC’s newly appointed chief executive officer Albert Changaya has said international tobacco buyers in the 2015/16 season will buy about 177 million kilogrammes of the leaf this year; an eight percent decrease from last year’s 192.6 million kilogrammes.
This year, Malawi earned $337.3 million (K189 billion) from tobacco—an eight percent drop from last year’s $366.3 million (K205 billion)—despite volumes at 192.6 million kilogrammes being 7.9 percent higher than last year’s 189.8 million kilogrammes.