Pandemic Takes Toll on Malawi Leaf Earnings

    Photo: Taco Tuinstra

    Malawi has earned $160.2 million from leaf tobacco sales to date, down 17.5 percent from the $194.3 million it realized during the same period last year.
     
    During the period under review, the country sold 105 million kg of all types of tobacco compared to 131.1 kg sold by end of week 16 last year, according to AHL Group.
     
    Kaisi Sadala, CEO of the Tobacco Commission, attributed the decrease in revenue and volume to the Covid-19 pandemic and a decrease in output this season. The country also suffered from a U.S. ban on Malawi leaf imports following suspicions that some tobacco was produced by forced labor.
     
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently cleared leaf from Universal Corp. and Alliance One International for entry, allowing those traders to import leaf from Malawi again.
     
    Despite the challenges, Tobacco Association of Malawi Trust CEO Nixon Lita described the market as “fairly good.”
     
    “We were expecting about 155 million kg, but I do not think we will reach that. We also noted that the auction market had a higher rejection rate, and this was a big concern to the farmers,” Lita said.
     
    Meanwhile, the Tobacco Commission has announced that Lilongwe and Mzuzu markets would close on Aug. 28.