Tobacco Commission (TC) chief executive officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga says the regulator expects this year’s tobacco output to be in line with the international trade requirements owing to good rains.
In the current season, TC has issued 46 684 licences to tobacco growers to produce 163.3 million kilogrammes (kg) of the crop as per international trade requirements. This is a drop from 53 170 licences issued last year.
In an interview on Friday, Malunga said they will soon be releasing the first-round tobacco estimates.
“This will give us an indication of how much tobacco we are going to produce this year,” he said.
Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer Nixon Lita said in an interview that the crop outlook this year is promising and they expect growers to present the desired quality leaf.
But he feared that if the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it could affect marketing proceedings just like last year when secret bidding was introduced in line with the pandemic’s preventive measures.
Alliance One Tobacco managing director Hugh Saunders said it was high time the tobacco industry discussed better returns for farmers not only through pricing but best practices as well.
He admitted buyers are also receiving international pressure to only buy regulatory-compliant produced tobacco.
Last season, tobacco consolidated trade demand dropped to 132 million kg from 161 million kg the previous season due to bad weather.
Tobacco is facing worldwide pressure from anti-smoking lobbyists championed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) through the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to reduce tobacco consumption.