Tobacco growers from Central Region districts of Salima, Dowa and Lilongwe have played down the delays in early rains this year in their respective farming areas.
According to the growers, speaking randomly with Business News this week, although the rains delayed this year, most of their tobacco seedlings are still intact in their nurseries and have not wilted much.
In Salima for example, Business News’ visit in Makiyoni and Chagunda under traditional authorities (T/A) Mwanza and Kambwiri, respectively, showed that farmers have managed their seedlings well through irrigation in absence of early rains.
The situation is the same in Dowa and most parts of Lilongwe where most tobacco growers have completed transplanting or replanting their tobacco.
Chikondi Banda, a tobacco grower from Makiyoni Village in the area of T/A Mwanza in Salima said he sees hope in the forthcoming tobacco marketing season but asked government to intervene in improving prices at the floors.
And Joseph Nguluwe from T/A Dzoole in Dowa while asking government to clear the mess surrounding contract and auction systems of growing tobacco, said time is up for ‘exploitation’ by tobacco buyers.
“Some of us were contacted by some tobacco buying companies to go into contracts but in all fairness it is important to let those growers who can afford to finance themselves and support those who can’t support themselves financially,” said Nguluwe, a burley tobacco grower.
In a separate interview Wednesday, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Graham Kunimba said Tama too anticipates good quality tobacco at the auction floors next year if growers continue to take good care of the leaf.
“Yes, it is a concern that rains have started very late this year, but the concerns should not warrant problems in terms of tobacco production this year,” said Kunimba.
The Tama boss said it is the hope of the association that tobacco production this year at national level will match with the trade requirement.
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive officer Bruce Munthali told Business News recently that despite delays in rains, there are strong indications that growers will produce quality tobacco this year.
Munthali also assured growers that government understands various concerns raised by industry stakeholders on challenges rocking the Integrated Production System (IPS) such as lack of transparency in loan contraction and minimum prices.