Farmer's Voice

Malawi: Govt. In Talks With Cigarette Manufacturers To Open Facilities In Country

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Opening the 2014 tobacco marketing season on March 24th at the Kanengo auction floor in Lilongwe, Malawi, President Joyce Banda said the government is negotiating with some cigarette manufacturers to open facilities in the country, a move that could raise the demand for the country's tobacco.  Banda urged farmers to improve their output to meet the expected increase in demand and diversify crop production to maximize profits. Commenting on the World Health Organization's proposal to gradually phase out tobacco cultivation, Banda said the government was examining the possible impact of the move on the tobacco sector (Malawi News Agency 3/24).

MalawiMinister of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. James Munthali said that the country's farmers are expected to deliver 169 million kilograms of burley tobacco, 21 million kilograms of flue-cured tobacco and 3 million kilograms of dark fire-cured tobacco to auction floors this selling season.  The auctions will begin first at the Kanengo Auction Floors, followed by Chinkhoma and Limbe Auction Floors. The Mzuzu Auction Floors will be opened on April 23rd. Munthali said he expects a good marketing season, especially since the Integrated Production System has improved the quality of the crop. Alliance One Managing Director Hugh Saunders clarified that the US$ 1.76-per-kilogram price that buyers have agreed to pay this season for burley is the average price, and not a guaranteed minimum price. Farmers should concentrate on delivering good quality tobacco to obtain good prices, he added (Malawi News Agency 3/20).

Bruce Munthali, chief executive officer of the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), estimated thatMalawiwill produce 193 million kilograms of leaf in the current season - 169 million kilograms of burley, 21 million kilograms of flue-cured tobacco and three million kilograms of dark fired variety. Munthali said TCC has employed adequate tobacco classifiers as well as arbitrators to help allocate tobacco grades and mediate price disputes between growers and buyers, respectively. Earlier, during the opening of the Kanengo auction floor inLilongwe, President Joyce Banda expressed hope that the 2014 marketing season would be one of the best in the history ofMalawi. Crown Prince Mmbelwa V, chairperson of TCC, assured Banda that the TCC would work hard to ensure a smooth marketing season. He added that the TCC and its stakeholders were working towards a decentralized rural tobacco marketing system, a move supported by Banda, to ensure that transport costs for the farmers were reduced. In 2013,Malawiearned US$ 362 million from the sale of 168 million kg of tobacco, up from US$ 177 million earned from 79.8 million kilograms in 2012 (Nyasa Times 3/24)