MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said delayed rains and not prices are to blame for this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s low tobacco production.
TCCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s explanation comes after Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) president Reuben Maigwa told the launch of the annual area meeting for tobacco industry stakeholders in Mzimba on Saturday that many farmers have been discouraged from growing the crop because of poor prices and leaf rejections at the auction floors last year.
TTC chief executive officer Dr Bruce Munthali, in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), attributed the low tobacco production this year to delayed rains.
“The drop is not necessarily due to poor prices that were offered at the auction floors last year, but delayed rains which created uncertainty among farmers,” said Munthali.
He has, however, assured farmers of competitive prices at the auction floors despite the worldwide anti-smoking lobby, saying government is talking to prospective buyers.
The Nation of Monday quoted Maigwa as saying: “There is very little tobacco in the fields across the country. It is doubtful that we will produce even half of the quantity that buyers have said they are ready to buy this year.”
Last year, Malawi sold tobacco 237 171 kilogrammes, fetching about K239 million.
The Tea Association of Malawi (Taml) has also announced that tea, the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second major foreign currency earner, dipped by 1.8 percent to K10.7 million in 2011 compared to K11 billion achieved in 2010.
Taml chief executive officer Clement Thindwa also cited unfavourable weather conditions that resulted in delayed rains in tea growing districts of Thyolo and Mulanje.
Thindwa, however, said the price of tea remains good on the global market.
“The global picture outlook shows that prices will continue to remain firm on the global market. The issue of demand and supply comes into play. If demand is high and supply is low, prices will obviously go up,” he stated.Ã¢â‚¬â€Mana/The Nation