Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has written government to remove duty on imported coal, a critical ingredient in the production of flue-cured tobacco.
There have been concerns from large estate flue-cured tobacco growers that the production of the leaf is not increasing due to, among others, duty that is levied on imported coal.
Most of the coal for curing the leaf comes from Tete in Mozambique, a country that is reported to have huge reserves of the product.
And if import duty on coal is removed, it also means that trees will be saved because most of the curing is done using firewood as an alternative.
TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali told Nation Online they are waiting for a response from government on the issue of waiving duty on exported coal.
“If coal is imported without duty, it means a huge plus in the growing of flue-cured tobacco. Most of the large-scale farmers have been complaining duty on coal increase their production costs and is hindrance to the maximisation of flue-cured tobacco growth,” he said.
The output for flue-cured, which is sought-after worldwide, has been increasing at a slow pace due to a number of reason, among them, the cost of producing the leaf.
Despite the demand for flue-cured tobacco on the global market being huge, Malawi’s production has in recent years been on the downward spiral.
Preliminary data from TCC, however, show that flue-cured output this year is expected to increase by 10 percent to 21 million kilogrammes (kg) from 19 million kg.
A grower of flue-cured, Dave Saywood, who is also general manager of Chisapi Farming, said recently that despite curing their leaf using the trees they plant, removing duty on coal could prove beneficial.