The 2018 tobacco marketing season for Malawi got underway on 9th April 2018 with official opening at the main market of Lilongwe Auction Floors presided over by His Excellency (HE) the State President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.
In his remarks, the HE appealed to all tobacco buying companies to remunerate the tobacco farmers through competitive prices for their hard work. The HE also urged tobacco farmers to professionally handle their tobacco in order to attract good prices that would make them realize profits.
Turning to the regulatory body, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), the HE urged TCC to collectively address the challenges besetting tobacco business. In particular, HE singled out the illegal vending and cross border trade perpetrated by unscrupulous traders. Not only do these practices erode Malawi of foreign exchange, HE said, they also compromise the competitiveness of Malawi tobacco at global market.
On the first day of sales, a total of 192,482 kg of burley tobacco was sold at an average price of US$1.10 per Kg. Majority of the crop offered was of low quality as farmers presented the crop from first reaping (priming). Due to over-conditioned tobacco, rejection rates on the auction system of marketing was at 17.4%, a worsened situation from 10.3% recorded on the first day of sales in 2017. The over-conditioning resulted from continuous rains over a week prior to the opening day that contributed to high humidity levels and therefore, not conducive for tobacco drying. However, the industry is very optimistic of improvement in both quality and prices.
Malawi is expected to sell 147.8 million kg of all tobaccos against the demand of 171 million kg of all tobaccos. The remaining three selling floors are expected to open in a weeks’ time.
TCC’s New Office Block inaugurated
After opening the 2018 tobacco marketing season the HE proceeded to preside over the official opening of the TCC’s state of the art five story New Office block. The new office block was constructed using own resources and is expected to resolve the office space shortage as the Head Office was housed in the same building with the divisional office.