There was commotion at Kanengo Tobacco Auctioning Floors Thursday morning when tobacco farmers disrupted sales of auction tobacco due to low prices and high rejection rate which went as high as 70 percent.
The irate farmers ended up beating an official from Alliance One official who resisted the disruption process.
According to an eye witness, the auction farmers rushed to the contract selling section where the process was running smoothly and leaf was being bought at up to a maximum of $200 per kilogramme.
This angered them, and when an Alliance One employee only identified as Peter resisted their demands, the farmers roughed him up, according to the witness.
“Another Alliance One employee, Jack Basikolo tried to contain the irate farmers, but failed, as farmers continued to throw tobacco bundles at Peter,” said the witness.
An official from Alliance One, who opted for anonymity, refused to shed more light on what had happened.
“There were some scuffles this morning but I am not at liberty to say anything on the matter because I don’t have information so if you can call me tomorrow [Friday] I should be able to respond to you then,” said the official.
Corporate Affairs manager for AHL Group of Companies, Mark Ndipita, confirmed the development, saying the scuffle emanated from displeasure on low prices and high rejection rate.
Ndipita said by the time the market was being disrupted, the rejection rate had reached 71.2 percent, a development which did not please farmers.
“What is happening is that only tobacco on auction is being rejected and that on contract farming is not being rejected and is also being bought at much higher prices. This development is what irked the auction farmers,” he said.
Ndipita said after the fracas, a meeting was called among representatives from Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) and AHL Group.
According to Ndipita, the market may open on Friday depending on how the buyers will respond to TCC’s suggestions as per the farmers’ demands.