Mzuzu Auction Floors officially opened on Wednesday but farmers expressed dissatisfaction with the prices offered for their tobacco.
President of Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA), Reuben Maigwa said the famers felt the quality of the leaf did not deserve the prices offered.
“Farmers here have quality tobacco unlike our friends in Limbe, Chinkhoma and Lilongwe but they sold their crop at as high as US$1.80 (about K792) per kg unlike here,” he said.
Maigwa said the only tobacco that had fetched good prices was the non-grade category whose minimum price was 85 cents (K374/kg) but was sold for up to US$1.20 (about K528/kg) and US$1.30 (about K572/kg).
He observed that buyers were sticking to the minimum prices set by government.
“If the buyers continue like this then the growers will not benefit,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza, who presided over the opening of the floors, concurred with Maigwa that the prices at Mzuzu Auction Floors were lower despite the good quality leaf at the market.
He pleaded with the buyers to offer better prices. He assured the farmers that he would discuss with buyers so that they can offer better prices.
But, Chiyembekeza observed that the pricing of some tobacco might have been affected by poor grading and moisture it contained. One farmer, Shemu Singini, from T/A Jalavikuwa in Mzimba said he was not impressed with the prices and offered and feared he would not get enough money to pay off his workers.
Before the sales were halted, burley was selling between US$1.30 (about K584/kg) and US$1.70 (about K764/kg).—Mana