Kasungu is a leading tobacco producing districts in Malawi.
This represents a 67 percent drop and K8.96 million (about $54 000) loss of revenue if Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) figures are anything to go by.
TCC figures show that in the first four weeks since the auction floors opened this year, tobacco price averaged $1.19 (K199) per kilogramme, up from an average of 76 cents (about K126.92) offered during the same period last year.
Kadd programme manager Mandy Bodzalekani was speaking this at a field day organised by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) at Mwimba Farm Institute in the district.
“Obviously, there will be some effects on their [farmersâ€™] livelihoods as the drop is huge. Our projection indicates that the Kaadd will only produce 22 million kilogrammes of tobacco this year from 67 million projected last year,” he said.
Bodzalekani attributed the drop to low prices offered at the auction floors last year and the rise in costs of farm inputs.
Meanwhile, Icrisathas recommended that farmers in the Central Region should consider adopting large-scale farming of pigeon peas to make up for the dwindling tobacco production.
The organisationâ€™s senior scientific officer, Oswin Madzonga, said legumes will help to restore the fertility of soils in the region degraded by poor farming practices.
He said research shows that soils in the region are lacking in nitrogen which pigeon peas and other legumes fix.
“Apart from fixing nitrogen in the soil, legumes are now fetching more money on the market yet we do not grow them on large scale,” he said.
Icrisat partnered the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) in encouraging farmers to grow legumes on a large scale.
Kadd comprises Kasungu, Ntchisi, Mchinji and Dowa districts.