A number of tobacco farmers in Malawi are most likely to sell off their remaining leaf at giveaway prices as they are currently slowly fluctuating with over 14 thousand tobacco bales still being presented for trading at the Lilongwe Auction floors alone.
The price issue has become a contentious but farmers have made little progress so far.
Our sources say the price fluctuation will continue for the remaining days of the market because buyers have already bought the quantity of leaf they estimated this year.
As the market nears closure prices are at a record low with buyers offering as low as 25 cents per kilogram of the leaf sending growers wild forcing instant suspension of business on the floors.
The disgruntled farmers, expressing their discontentment over low prices the leaf was fetching Tuesday morning took to the streets which led to a temporal closure of the market.
Ironically, this comes after a day-long stakeholders meeting on Monday which resolved that tobacco trading resumes Tuesday morning. Growers and buyers had reached a compromise.
“We have agree to resume sales but there seem not to be a compromise between growers and buyers of prices as the buying companies seem to had bought their required quantity,” said an insider who attended the meeting.
This implies that prices are likely to continue fluctuating despite resumption of trading as buyers seem to have already bought their estimated quantities.
There are indications that the stalemate may be because there has been overproduction.
“We have no option but to go on with the trading as the market is almost over now. However, we still have to express our fears that we may not reap the most out of our efforts in tobacco production this year,” worried one farmer at Lilongwe auction floors who opted for anonymity.
Meanwhile, figures sourced from Auction Holdings Limited indicate that slightly over 14 thousand bales of the green gold are yet to be traded through the auction floors.
Over 359 million dollars have since been earned since commencement of the market in April.
Tobacco sales at the Lilongwe auction floors which was scheduled to be closed on August 29 was extended due to oversupply of the leaf.
The country produced over 188 million kilograms this year, compared to 165 million kilograms grown last season.