41 MILLION KILOS OF TOBACCO SOLD
By Amalawi - Mon May 28, 3:30 pm
Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said about 41 million kilograms of tobacco have so far been sold since the start of the tobacco sales this season.
TCC spokesperson Juliana Chidumu told local media this is an improvement as compared to the same period last year. She attributed this to the good prices being offered, the low rejection rate at the auction floors and the reduction of tobacco smuggling outside Malawi’s borders.
In 2011 tobacco selling season, TCC recorded high rejection rate of tobacco due to poor quality leaf and presence of non tobacco material like stones in tobacco bales.
During the same time a lot of tobacco growers smuggled their leaf to neighboring Zambia and Mozambique in search of good prices because of the low prices that were offered at the auction floors.
However, this year the farmers are singing a different song according to Chidumu as there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
“This time around tobacco sales are going on well due to the good prices. As TCC we had anticipated an average minimum price of $1.82 but I can confirm to you that the figures are up more than this.” Said Chidumu adding; “so far about 41 million kilos of tobacco have been sold, a record of its own as compared to the same period last year. This in part is also due to improved grading and quality leaf brought by the farmers.”
Meanwhile, Chidumu said the 48.9 % devaluation of the kwacha has also improved tobacco sales as farmers are earning more than the time before devaluation.
She added that in the process tobacco farmers are contributing to the influx of foreign money and its economic benefit since they are being paid directly through commercial banks.
“Since devaluation farmers are excited because they are getting more. As of now they (farmers) are getting almost double as they were getting before. 1 kilogram of tobacco is now going at close to 1 dollar 82 cents an equivalent of about MK5OO.” Chidumu said.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi devalued the Malawi kwacha almost a month ago attributing the move as way of easing the influx of foreign money in the country at a time forces of the parallel market which was fast becoming the only available source of foreign money was the determining factor on foreign money availability.
According RBM, the devaluation could also ensure the availability of foreign money on the market at the same time most of the commercial banks were dry on foreign money.
A recent visit by this reporter at Limbe Auction Floors revealed that farmers are over the moon with the devaluation as it has almost doubled their take away package home. Chimutu Chimera, a farmer from Chiradzulu said the season has seen him earn more than he expected.
“I have made money this season. Come next year I will make sure I grow more tobacco. I’m praying things don’t change.” Said a visibly excited Chimera.
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