Tobacco growers have expressed optimism that their leaf will be bought at good prices as the tobacco marketing season opens tomorrow at Lilongwe Auction Floors.
The first round of crop estimates show that the country is expected to produce 122 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco against buyers’ demand of 132 million kg.
In a written response on Thursday, Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer Nixon Lita said the opening of the tobacco marketing season presents an opportunity for growers to reap from their sweat.
He said: “The timing of the opening of the market is good as we believe this will ensure presentation of a well cured low moisture leaf thus avoid rejections.
“Looking at the expected low production, there is hope of better prices, assuming the market behaves perfectly.”
On her part, AHL Group public relations manager Teresa Ndanga said AHL Tobacco Sales, a subsidiary of the group, is ready for the 2021 tobacco marketing season.
She said as of Thursday, AHL Tobacco Sales received over 7 000 bales of tobacco and that on the opening day, they expect to have over 13 000 bales.
Ndanga said they plan to trade 3 000 bales on the first day of sales.
“Just like last year, the number of stakeholders on the floors will be limited as indicated by Tobacco Commission [TC]. AHL Tobacco Sales will be giving access only to farmers selling tobacco on a particular day,” she said.
Ndanga said all Covid-19 precautionary measures such as washing of hands with soap, applying hand sanitiser and physical distancing, among others, will be adhered to.
TC chief executive officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said in an interview that growers as key stakeholders will be allowed to witness sales.
“We have made arrangements with the Ministry of Health to provide Covid-19 testing and vaccination services to ensure everyone is safe at the market,” he said.
Last year, earnings from tobacco sales plunged by 27 percent to $174 million (about K134 billion) against $237 million (about K182 billion) earned in 2019.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s main foreign exchange earner.