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Tobacco Sales Open March 26

The 2012 tobacco marketing season starts on March 26 with the opening of Lilongwe Auction Floors, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has confirmed.

In a statement issued on Friday, TCC said the opening of the Lilongwe floors will be followed Limbe on March 28.

Meanwhile the commission has advised tobacco growers, transporters and buyers to start delivering their leaf to the auction floors from March 19.

TCC says dates for the opening of Kasungu’s Chinkhoma and Mzuzu Auction Floors will be announced later.

It is expected that this year there will be a lower volume of tobacco compared to last year’s produce due to poor prices offered at the auction floors which forced many farmers to abandon growing the crop.

Tobacco is main cash crop for Malawi contributing about 80 per cent of the country’s exports, but in the recent years the industry has been dwindling due to the global anti smoking campaign and concerns regarding quality of the Malawi leaf as raised by some buyers.

Last year Malawi realized about K40 billion (US$243 million)—the amount which was less than 2010 marketing season where the country got K63 billion (US$383 million) from the tobacco sales.

The development has pushed the black market rate of the Kwacha to as high as K310 a dollar against the officially recommended K167.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have advised the Malawi government to devalue the Kwacha by 40 per cent.

But government officials have ignored the advice arguing that there will be a disastrous impact on local people claiming that prices of basic commodities will increase beyond their reach.—Zodiak Online

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