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Malawi tobacco farmers cry foul over sales’ high rejection rates

Malawi Tobacco FarmerBy: Lloyd M’bwana

 

The country’s tobacco growers selling their green gold at the just opened Lilongwe Auction Floors have expressed sadness over high level of rejection and lower prices describing the development as blow to their hard earned lives.

 

This comes barely a few days after President Peter Mutharika officially opened this year’s tobacco marketing season while pleading with the leaf’s buyers to offer good prices amid the ailing economy.

 

 

The Maravi Post random checking of sale sheets on Thursday and Friday, this week showed that rejection rates especially under auction system of selling hit at 76% while those farmers on Integrated Production System-Contract (IPS) were seen going home smiling as most of their tobacco was sold out.

 

This year’s rejection rates is more higher than that of last when the selling season was opening which was hovering between 20 and 30 percent contrary to this year which is by Friday, April 15 was at 76 percent.

 

Actually, prices of burley tobacco is the most casualty fetching lower prices at US$ 0.80 (MK552) per Kilogram (kg) while the highest was at US$ 1.51 (MK1,041) per kg as of Thursday and Friday.

 

In an exclusive interviews with the Maravi Post at the Lilongwe auction floors, several farmers especially on auctioning system expressed disappointment over the high rejection rates and low prices offering saying the development was tantamount to economic right violation which buyers were inflicting on already poor farmers.

 

Ephraim Brazio of Kasiya who brought 15 bales of tobacco under auctioning system to the market only to sale eight at US$0.80 each while the remaining seven bails were rejected while Lameck Jamton under IPS took 20 bails and eighteen was sold each bail selling at US$1.10 while the remaining two were sold at US$0.80.

 

AHL Group Corporate Affairs Manager Mark Ndipita on Thursday confirmed that 4,003 bales were on offer under action system but only 24 percent of the green gold was sold.

 

Various stakeholders in the tobacco industry have expressed sadness of this year’s start of selling seasons amid a 33 percent over production against a demand of 158.1 million kg according to first round crop estimate released in February 2016 which put the production at 211 million kg.

 

In 2015, the country produced 192 million kg of tobacco which earned Malawi US$337.4 million (MK216.8 billion).

 

However, there is growing debate of the two tobacco selling systems; Auctioning and contract (IPS) which have received with mixed reactions as agricultural experts and tobacco buyers favoring IPS while other farmers still standing to auctioning arguing that it gives them freedom of using their inputs and growing it at opportune time than that of IPS.

 

In this regard, The Maravi Post will run a comprehensive article unpacking the two systems on which way the nation must take with objective and social-economic benefits farmers might have.

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