Tobacco farmers say inadequate rainfall being experienced in some of the country’s districts could negatively affect the leaf’s output.
Tama Farmers Trust president Abel Kalima Banda, who is also one of the long- time tobacco growers in the Central Region, said in an interview yesterday that the tobacco crop is not looking healthy because of less moisture due to delayed onset of rains.
He said in most tobacco growing districts, the crop is withering and farmers continue to spend a lot to save the dying crop.
“What we have experienced is devastating and worrisome. Farmers have had to spend money to get water from sources far from their garden just to save the crop,” said Banda.
He appealed to the Tobacco Commission (TC) to critically look at the cost of production when coming up with the prices, arguing that farmers have spent a lot to try to save the crop.
“We anticipate government to intervene in terms of pricing this year because we have spent a lot, as such, it would only be fair if we at least get what we invested in this crop,” he said.
TC communications officer Telephorus Chigwenembe said in an interview yesterday the regulatory authority will from today to Saturday conduct an assessment to evaluate the impact of the dry spell on the crop.
“Results of the assessment will guide the Tobacco Commission on what interventions to undertake should there be need,” he said.
Meanwhile, figures on tobacco buyers demand are yet to be published, but according to Chigwenembe, TC is eager is ensure production increases yearly to pursue an annual target of 180 million kilogrammes in the next few years.
Tobacco remains the country’s key cash crop, contributing about 60 percent to foreign exchange earnings and 15 percent to the country’s gross domestic product. In the 2021 tobacco marketing season, Malawi earned $197.1 million (about K160 billion), which is 13 percent higher than the previous year.