By Wisdom Ngwira
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera says he is impressed with tobacco prices that buyers have started offering to farmers at Kanengo Auction Floors on the first day.
Chakwera was speaking on Thursday in Lilongwe when he officially launched this year’s tobacco selling season.
The President said if buyers continue to offer good prices to tobacco farmers, the nation stands a chance of coming out from various economic hardships being experienced.
“It is a known fact that tobacco has been a mainstay of our economy which means if its prices are good the economy starts pick up, I am therefore impressed with the prices that were offered to farmers on this first day as they were above government set minimum farm gate price,” said Chakwera.
The President explained that it is encouraging to see that the first bottom tobacco leaves which are usually of low quality have already surpassed the minimum farm gate price.
“These bottom leaves are not the best we expected, so it pleases us seeing buyers being able to offer above what government set as a starting price, we only hope the trend continues so that our farmer are fairly rewarded from their hard work.
“I further therefore urge all tobacco farmers in the country to comply with all the demands that tobacco buyers are putting in place by desisting from practices that discourage buyers to come on the tobacco market like child labour and environmental degradation in the course of tobacco production,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Minister of agriculture Lobin Lowe said for farmers in the country to realise maximum profits from tobacco sales this season, they need to make sure they properly grade their produce.
“I should state here that sometimes we as farmers create problems for ourselves by mixing good tobacco with non tobacco related maerials.Once a buyer realises that this is what has been done to our tobacco, they definitely reject the bales or offer very low prices.” sad Lowe.
The agriculture minister then expressed concern that this year’s tobacco season has been dogged by unfamiliar late onset of the first rains which has negatively affected the quantity of the leaf.
Meanwhile despite expressing satisfaction for the first day prices, a farmer from Traditional Authority Chitukula Luckson Lobeni complained that usually buyers tend to offer good tobacco prices only when the President is physically at the floors.
“Mr President, I want to let you know that these buyers tend to give us better prices only when they see your physical presence here once you leave the floors they immediately lower their offers,” he said.
The theme for this year’s tobacco selling season is Compliance: Key to sustainable tobacco production and marketing in Malawi.