BY WILLIAM KUMWEMBE:
Malawi has so far realised a total of $325.148 million from sales of top export crop,
figures from market regulator, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), indicate.
The earnings are 53 percent higher than the $212.514 million the green gold fetched during same time last year.
As at end of last week, the market had traded 192,765,666 Kilograms (kg) of all types of tobacco, compared to 106,536,815 kg sold same period last year.
This is representing an 80 percent rise.
However, average price has remained subdued for a greater part this year’s tobacco marketing season, now at $1.69, representing a 15.44 drop from $1.99 during the same period last year.
With the Mzuzu and Lilongwe auction floors yet to close, the current level of earnings far outweigh the $212 million realised during the entire season last year, thanks to improved production volumes.
TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kayisi Sadala, said authorities expect the two markets to close within two weeks.
“The biggest challenge has been logistical challenges faced by the buyers, resulting from their failure to clear bought tobacco from the floors, thereby limiting the available space to lay new bales for sale,” Sadala said in an interview Monday.
Unlike in 2016, when the season extended up to late December due to frequent market disruptions, the market has been largely smooth this year.
Tobacco has since the 1970s remained Malawi’s single top forex earner followed by sugar and tea.
With the green gold slowly losing its appeal on the international market due to the anti-smoking lobby, efforts to find a replacement for tobacco as a top forex earner have so far yielded no tangible results.