Tobacco buying companies in 2012 earned up to US$543 million from the export of Malawi’s tobacco, the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has revealed.

TCC Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Munthali, said in an interview in Lilongwe on Tuesday that the earnings came from the export of 79 million kilogrammes for the year as well as leftovers from the previous season which the companies had in their inventories.

He said in total, the companies exported close to 158 million kilogrammes of all tobacco types between January and December last year.

“Most of the exports were made between July and December as a result of fuel availability for transportation,” said Munthali.

The companies, Munthali said, were selling the leaf at an average price of US$3.45 per kilogramme on the international market as compared to the previous year’s average price of US$3.39 per kilogramme.

Official statistics show that last year, the country produced 79 million kilogrammes that was sold to the buyers between March and August for US$177 million.

The exports for 2012 were an increase from the previous year’s earnings which were at slightly over US$482 million generated after exporting 142 million kilograms of all tobacco types.

Munthali said the companies have not yet finished exporting last year’s stocks.

Meanwhi le, this season’s market ing season has started steadly at the country’s main auction floors in Lilongwe, according to the TCC.

The stability was also observed when The Daily Times crew visited the floors on Tuesday as farmers interviewed at the floors were so far satisfied with the minimum prices offered.

On the first day of the floors, opened by President Joyce Banda, the market sold 6,000 bales of all tobacco of which 4,000 bales were sold on auction while the remaining 2,000 was sold at contract.

The prices were ranging from US$0.90 to US2.20 per kilogramme with an average price of US1.19 at the end of the first day, according to TCC, adding that this indicated a marginal increase as compared to last year’s prices at the beginning of the market which started with prices as low as US$0.80 per leaf.

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