Tobacco Commission (TC) says it is overwhelmed with the number of tobacco growers willing to grow the crop in the next growing season.
Since last week, more growers have been thronging TC offices at Kanengo in Lilongwe for the 2019/20 tobacco quota allocation.
The numbers have overwhelmed the tobacco regulator, which has attributed the surge to the institution’s nationwide awareness campaign of the new Tobacco Industry Act 2019, among others.
Section 38, sub-section 5 of the Act outlaws the use of other people’s licences to sell tobacco at the tobacco floors.
In an interview on Sunday, TC chief executive officer Kayisi Sadala said it is clear that there is a lot of enthusiasm to grow tobacco in the 2019/20 growing season.
He said this is contrary to speculations by others that most growers would be demotivated to grow the leaf next season due to depressed prices,particularly on the auction market.
He said: “There is an overwhelming response as it is clear that more people want to grow tobacco next year, at least going by the licencing and allocation of quotas which is currently underway.”
Sadala said the huge turnout is also evident in all the commission’s divisions in the country as growers scramble for quota allocation.
“In fact it is giving us pressure because more and more people want to grow tobacco. On a positive note, we believe people have now been made aware of the new Tobacco Industry Act, which prohibits the use of other people’s licences,” he said.
But Sadala said to ensure compliance, all new applicants are not being given quota allocations until vetting exercise is complete.
This means that TC will have to vet all new applicants before issuing a licence and also validate land availability for all new applicants.
Sadala said TC will also implement know-your-customer for all tobacco growers while also undertaking global positioning system so that every tobacco grower on TC database is fully known.
“In compliance with the law, the commission will ensure that all research, extension services and use of chemicals and pesticides are duly complied,” he said.
Next year’s international trade requirements is pegged at 154.3 million kilogrammes (kg), a figure which is slightly higher than the aggregate demand of 149.6 million kg recorded this year, representing a three percent increase.
Of the 154.3 million kg projected demand, tobacco buyers are willing to buy 38.2 million kg through contract system and 116.1 million kg through contract arrangement or integrated production system.