Malawi estimates tobacco crop
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Recent estimates have put Malawi’s tobacco production this season at between 144 million and 156.5 million kg.
According to sources in Lilongwe quoting the Malawi Tobacco Control Commission’s [TCC] general manager, Godfrey Chapola, the total crop stands at 156.5 million kg, up from 143.4 million kg last season. This season’s crop is said to be made up of 124 million kg of burley, 32 million kg of flue-cured, and 500,000 kg of northern dark fired tobacco.
Chapola was quoted as saying the crop had benefited with respect to volume and quality from favorable weather conditions, the ready availability of fertilizer at affordable prices and the use of contract farming.
The director of the Agricultural Extension Trust [ARET], Ezra Chilembwe, has painted a slightly different picture, however. Chilembwe said that growing areas in some parts of the country had received inadequate rain and that he expected a burley crop of 119 million kg and a flue-cured crop of 25 million kg.
Tobacco sales at Malawi’s main Lilongwe Auction Floors were suspended in the last week of March after buyers rejected government “fixed” minimum prices, according to the Angola Press.
President Bingu wa Mutharika set the minimum price for low-quality tobacco at $1.10 and $1.70 for high-quality tobacco. The government then reversed its decision the same week and sales continued.
Tobacco is Malawi’s principal source of foreign capital, accounting for about 60 percent of its total earnings.