Tobacco farmers in northern Malawi have so far failed to meet demand at the auction floors despite good prices being offered.
This has prompted the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) to call on growers to bring more bales to the floors.
Spot checks at Mzuzu Auction Floors on Wednesday found that by noon, there were no trucks offloading tobacco. Since the market opened on Monday this week, an average of 2 000 bales per day was auctioned compared to about 5 000 bales per day in the previous years.
Statistics show that between April 16 and May 8 2012, only 5 247 bales were delivered to the auction floors. The highest number of bales delivered, 749, was recorded on April 27, whereas the lowest number, 28 bales, was recorded on April 16.
TCC spokesperson Juliana Chidumu attributed the low inflow to low production.
She said the weather in the Northern Region also had an impact on production as the region was still experiencing heavy rains.
Chidumu said prices were impressive at the market as they hit $2.22 on Tuesday. She also observed that the rejection rate has been low compared to last season. The market has recorded a rejection rate of 3.5 percent this year, a figure that is much lower than last yearâ€™s 80 percent rate.
Chidumu said the market has committed buyers and she hopes the farmers will bring their remaining tobacco on time.
One of the farmers, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, said growers will benefit from their produce as prices are good and the rejection rate is low. He said the unfortunate part is that the farmers were disappointed with last yearâ€™s sales and did not grow as much tobacco this season.
Tobacco remains Malawiâ€™s number one foreign exchange generator, contributing about 60 percent of the countryâ€™s annual forex earnings.