Tobacco prices rise after Bingu’s death, deported Graham jets in

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Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) on Friday expressed happiness over high prices offered at auction floors for the past three days since the opening of the 2012 tobacco marketing season.

This development comes soon after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika who ran battles with the tobacco magnates and had deported long time tobacco chief Charles Graham of Limbe Leaf. Graham has now been invited back by the new government.

TCC Chief Executive Officer Bruce Munthali told Zodiak Radio the highest price offered at Lilongwe Auction Floor on Thursday was US$2.45 an equivalent of over K400 per kilogram.

Munthali attributed the high prices offered at auction floors to competition among the buyers.

“There is effective competition among buyers. I will reflect on three markets that are operational; Lilongwe market the no sale was at 43% and the highest price was US$2.45 per kilogram for barley,” said Munthali adding that the lowest price at Lilongwe was 85 cents.

“For Chinkhoma market, the no sale was at 26% and highest price was US$2.20; lowest price was 85 cent. For Limbe no sale was at 24% and highest price was US$2.20.”

However Munthali has expressed worry at low tobacco delivery at the three auction floors that are operational.

“The market is stabilizing. We are only concerned of low deliveries. We have not reached the fresh-hold for all the markets. For example Lilongwe has a flesh-hold of 12,000 bales but yesterday bales that were offered were 5, 000,” said Munthali.

The low delivery of tobacco has forced TCC to postpone the opening of Mzuzu Auction Floors in the northern region scheduled for April 16.

Meanwhile, the Malawi government says Charles Graham, former Limbe Leaf Manager in the country who was deported by late President Bingu wa Mutharika following poor tobacco prices, is now a free man to come back to Malawi.

It is also reported that Mr. Graham has since arrived in Malawi and met newly inaugurated president Joyce Banda to cement the sour relations with Malawi government.

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