A new year, another promise

| April 11, 2017

Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) says it expects this year’s grower tobacco prices to be higher than last year’s since supply is limited, according to a Malawi24.com story.

Acting chief executive officer David Luka said the TCC was expecting a better season this year.

He said that the tobacco had looked good in the fields, and that demand was high while supply was low.

According to estimates made two weeks ago, the all-types crop was about 125 million kg whereas the ‘initial’ trade requirements were for 152 million kg. So there was a shortfall of 27 million kg.

This year’s tobacco marketing season was due to open today, starting with the Lilongwe Auction floors.

Luka advised farmers to take their tobacco to the market in a well-presented manner so that they would receive premium prices.

“For the buyers, again it’s a plea that they should pay the prices that the quality demands…,” he said.

That plea is unlikely to be heard if last season is anything to go by.

On April 14 last year, under a heading of Farmers promised ‘decent incomes’, this magazine, relying on local reports, said that after 125 years of producing leaf tobacco for export, Malawi’s farmers were being promised that in 2016 they would earn decent incomes from their labor. But would buyers walk the talk?, the story asked.

The answer was no. Within days, under a heading Low prices make lives ‘unbearable’, it was reported that despite 2016’s having been heralded as the year when tobacco farmers in Malawi would earn decent incomes, the opening day of sales was marked by low prices; or business as usual.

And within a few more days, under the heading, Malawi tobacco prices ‘pathetic’, it was reported that calls were being made from some quarters for the current, ‘pathetic’ tobacco prices in Malawi to be propped up by a kwacha devaluation.

By the middle of May last year, again using a Malawi24.com story, it was reported that some tobacco growers in Malawi were puzzled because, having been told to improve the quality of their leaf to attract higher prices, they were in 2016 receiving lower prices for higher quality tobacco.

By August it was reported that tobacco farmers were in ‘misery’, and by September they were demanding change. They were being paid poor prices for a product that would eventually be sold for huge profits, enriching tobacco company executives and shareholders.

In 2016, with one week of sales still to go, Malawi’s tobacco had sold at an average of about US$1.36 per kg, down by nearly 23 percent on the average of 2015, US$1.76.

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Category: Breaking News, Leaf, Markets

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