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Malawi Tobacco Production Drops By Half

The Tobacco Association of Malawi says it is doubtful Malawi will produce half of the 160 million kilograms of tobacco the market wants this season following last year’s poor sales.

Tama President Mr. Reuben Maigwa says random sampling in various parts of the country shows a significant drop in tobacco production.

“This year there will not be a lot of tobacco sold at the auction floors because farmers were discouraged with how the market went last year,” said Mr. Maigwa.

“It will very fortunate if Malawi reach half of what buyers are looking for this year because many people have not planted tobacco,” he added.

Mr. Maigwa advised tobacco growers to take care of their leaf to attract better prices when he spoke at the launch of the 2012 TAMA annual area meetings held at Enfeni in Mzimba.

Dr. Bruce Munthali, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) Chief Executive Officer, said orders for Malawi tobacco have this year gone down to 160 million kilograms from 180 million kilograms last year.

Government re-introduced a quota production system following negative effects of over production in the last season. Over production was largely blamed for poor prices offered in the 2011 tobacco marketing season.

Last season Malawi realized about $250 million (about 40 billion Kwacha), representing a 40 per cent drop in revenue from last season’s rake.

The development has had serious repercussions on Malawi’s foreign reserves, leading to all-time-high shortage of forex and a poor level of balance of payment.

Dr. Munthali says growers have been advised to grow tobacco on 20 per cent of their land, 10 percent to growing trees and the rest for other crops.

Last year, Malawi overproduced the leaf by 20 million kilograms as buyers only booked 180 million kilograms.—Zodiak Online

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