Tobacco buyers and Tobacco Commission (TC) have differed on this year’s demand for the leaf with the former requesting authorities to review the figures, arguing they do not reflect the reality on the ground.
Ministry of Agriculture figures show that Malawi is expected to produce 122 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco this year, which is nine percent below 133 million kg demand from the buyers.
In an interview on Thursday, Tobacco Processors Association of Malawi chairperson Hugh Saunders, who is also managing director for Alliance One Tobacco (Malawi) Limited, asked the authorities to re-assess the figures.
“I, therefore, ask that all those figures should be re-looked because this is not what we believe the demand for tobacco to be,” he said.
Saunders said global demand for tobacco around the world keeps shrinking due to, among others, the unrelenting pressure from World Health Organisation’s anti-smoking lobby, competing e-cigarettes and the Covid-19 pandemic.
But TC corporate and business development manager Richard Chinthunzi wondered why the buyers are disputing the demand projection when such trade requirement figures come from the buyers.
He said: “SAs TC, we do not have influence on trade requirement. So, it is like buyers are shooting themselves in the foot and have a very good reason for that.”
Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with nine tobacco buyers over minimum prices for this season.