President Dr. Joyce Banda says she is impressed with the maximum prices of tobacco at the opening of the 2014 market season on Monday adding she hoped the trend would continue.
In her keynote address marking the official opening of the 2014 tobacco market season at Kanengo in Lilongwe, President Dr. Banda also hailed farmers for producing the leaf of very good quality; a development she said would minimize cases of sending tobacco back for regrading.
"I have toured the floors and four categories of tobacco among them; the contract farming category and that of ordinary farmers," explained the President. "I was impressed to note that the maximum price for tobacco in the contract farming category was as high as 2 dollars 90 cents and in the other category the maximum price was 2 dollars 5 cents.
"For a start, this is impressive; I don't know what will happen as we go on but I expect the prices to be that good throughout the season."
The President appealed to tobacco buyers to consider offering better prices throughout the season so that the farmers, who had toiled to produce tobacco of good quality as the lot she saw at the floors, should appreciate the gains for their toiling.
Earlier during the official opening of the 2014 market season, Chairperson for Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), Crown Prince Mmbelwa V, assured President Dr. Banda that under his chairmanship, TCC would work hard to ensure a smooth tobacco season.
Mmbelwa V noted that the President's initiatives in support of tobacco farmers were improving the farmers' livelihoods citing the directive that farmers should be given an option of receiving their tobacco sales earnings in US dollars at a commercial bank of their choice as one example.
"Your government also approved the Integrated Production System model of tobacco production and marketing in Malawi... the system has helped the tobacco growers in terms of better quality leaf that can fetch better prices on the floor," explained the TCC Chair.
He also said TCC and its stakeholders were working towards a decentralized rural tobacco marketing system which the President advocated for to ensure that transport costs for the farmers were reduced.
Last year Auction Holdings Limited sold a total of 169 million kilograms of all types of tobacco realizing about 362 million United States dollars.