By Memory Chatonda, MANA
The tobacco market opened on Monday at Limbe Auction Floors with maximum price of the golden leaf selling at 2.50 dollars and 1.30 dollars for contract and Auction market, respectively.
This is a slight improvement of tobacco sales at Limbe Auction Floors, especially for contract market compared to last year’s sales in which the highest price for the crop was pegged at 2.20 dollars.
Speaking during the official opening of the market at Limbe Auction Floors in Blantyre, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Francis Kasaila said he was impressed to learn the sales had started on a high note due to high quality tobacco being sold at the auction floor.
Kasaila said good quality tobacco attracted higher prices, a development he said would enable farmers to realise the much-needed income.
“This year, tobacco in Limbe has been exceptionally good.The quality is good both on auction and contract markets. This only shows that our farmers are committed to producing good quality tobacco to support the industry.
“In addition, the price is very remarkable especially for contract market and they (buyers) are also adhering to the minimum price of 90 cents. To this effect, I am hoping that the majority of farmers will get above 90 cents for them to benefit from their sweat,” Kasaila said.
However, National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Chief Executive Officer, Bettie Chinyamunyamu expressed worry over the rejection rate of most tobacco bales at the auction floors.
“We have seen a number of bales especially on auction being rejected by buyers. I believe one of the reasons could be the farmers did not have the right amount of input or adequate technical support from extension workers during the cultivation of the golden leaf.
“But since this is the first day of marketing, we hope to see an improvement in the percentage of no-sale bales,” Chinyamunyamu said.
Tobacco Commission (TC) Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala assured tobacco growers of selling all tobacco bales earmarked for marketing at Limbe Auction Floors.
“Today, we have seen few companies participating during the sale of tobacco. However, we will do everything possible to ensure that all 1403 earmarked tobacco bales are sold,” Sadala said.
So far, the Tobacco Commission has opened tobacco markets at Lilongwe Auction Floors and Chinkhoma in Kasungu amid strict adherence to Coronavirus precautionary measures.