Growers blamed for everything

| August 18, 2016

Tobacco growers in Malawi are being made the scapegoats for the problems affecting local leaf markets, according to a story in The Nyasa Times. As is common practise when prices are down and rejection rates are high; the cry goes up that growers have produced too much tobacco and tobacco of the wrong quality.

But stories out of Malawi earlier this year told of how some buyers were not buying the tobacco they had contracted for, which was forcing the affected growers on to the auction floors, where prices were lower.

A story in May described how growers were receiving prices lower than they had received last year for tobacco said to be of better quality.

In June, another story said that tobacco growers were in despair; a story in July described, euphemistically, how prices weren’t favorable to growers; and another story in July said that tobacco was making farmers in Malawi poorer.

The current Times story said that tobacco buyers had gone on their summer holidays leaving huge quantities of unsold leaf, a move that had prompted the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) to invite three more buyers to consider the tobacco: the Chinese tobacco monopoly, Eastern Company and Japan Tobacco International.

“They have said they are looking into our request but we are hopeful they will come in to help buy the remaining tobacco,” the TCC general manager Albert Changaya was quoted as saying.

He was quoted also as blaming the growers for growing too much tobacco.

But the story did not address who, if anybody, is responsible for controlling tobacco crop sizes.

And it did not address how holding what is in effect a fire sale is going to improve rather worsen the situation in the future.

The government is said to be searching for another crop, perhaps industrial hemp, to replace tobacco as the mainstay of the Malawi economy.

Category: Breaking News

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