Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has tentatively scheduled the opening of this year’s tobacco marketing season on April 11 starting with the Lilongwe Auction Floors.
This year’s marketing season comes against a 33 percent oversupply of tobacco, according to the first round agricultural production estimates survey (Apes).
The crop assessment pegged this year’s production at 211 million kilogrammes (kg) against the trade requirement of 158.1 million kg.
Tobacco buyers are looking for 132 million kg of burley, 21 million kg of flue-cured andaround 4 million kg for dark-fired tobacco.
In an interview on Thursday, TCC chief executive officer Albert Changaya said the tentative dates of opening the markets are April 11 for Lilongwe Auction Floors, April 13 for Limbe Auction Floors while Chinkhoma Auction Floors in Kasungu and Mzuzu Auction Floors will open on April 18 and 20 respectively.
Changaya, however, said the opening of the tobacco marketing season will depend on the results of the second round tobacco assessment.
“All depends on the second round estimates because our team is still in the fields for the second round crop assessment,” he said.
Changaya said the commission will give a day for each of the four main selling floors to open.
This year’s marketing season comes in the midst of farmers’ outcry of the kwacha appreciating against the major trading currencies. The local currency is now trading at about K717 against the dollar from K765 two weeks ago.
The kwacha fell sharply since July last year from K512 per dollar to about K760 two weeks ago.
According to one of the big tobacco growers in the Northern Region, Harry Mkandawire, who is also member of Parliament (MP) for Mzimba West, the farmers expected the kwacha to trade at K800 by the time sales begin.
“Farmers would have made profits if the local currency were trading at K800 to the dollar,” Mkandawire said.
However, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), in a press statement titled Impact of Kwacha Exchange Rate Movement on Exporters released on Friday, has assured the growers that the current exchange rate system is the best for the farmers because it makes them competitive on the international market.
Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) has since announced that it will start receiving tobacco bales in its depots from March 28 in the Central Region and April 4 in the Southern and Northern regions in readiness of the selling season.