AHL Group says the tobacco market is now fully operational, selling 25 000 bales a day from 3 000 bales when the market opened in April.
The tobacco market has been operating with restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
AHL Group general manager Graham Kunimba, in an interview on Monday, said they are impressed with the progress of the market, but expressed worry with high rejection rate which he said is frustrating progress.
He said: “The rejection rate is what is pulling us backwards in terms of volumes being sold.
“The reasons behind high rejection rate is difficult to understand, but it should be noted that buyers have own business interests.”
Rejection rate is currently at 51 percent, higher than 46 percent registered during the same periold last year.
Since tobacco sales started in April, sales have been conducted in the absence of grower representatives, a development that has resulted in farmers exerting pressure on the Tobacco Commission (TC) to allow them to witness the sales.
TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said the regulator has now developed new measures in line with the Covid-19 prevention, which will enhance representation of both commercial and smallholder growers on the floors.
Figures from AHL Group, managers of the floors, show that the market has so far sold 58.4 million kilogrammes (kg) as at week nine compared to 65 million kg, which is 4.4 percent lower than same period last year.
From the volumes sold, $88 million (about K65. 1 billion) has been realised compared to last year’s $92.4 million (about K68.8 billion) raked in during the same periold last year, representing a drop of 9.5 percent.
In terms of prices, on average, a kg is fetching $1.51 (about K1 117) compared to last year’s $1.43 (about K1 058), representing 5.6 percent increase.
A visit to the Lilongwe floors on Monday showed that on the auction market, tobacco fetched the highest price of $1.85 (K1 369) per kg with $0.90 (about K666) being the minimum price.
On the contract market, the highest price was recorded at $2.55 (about K1 887) per kg with $1. 10 (about K814) being minimum price.
A farmer from Madisi, Dowa Tonnex Moses said while the market was progressing well in line with the Covid-19 prevention measures, he was disappointed with low prices offered by buyers despite the leaf being of high quality.