By Imam Wali:
Some tobacco farmers in rural areas have cited long distance to depots among major setbacks for them to maximise profit, saying cost of transportation remains too high.
This was raised during a field day meeting AHL Group organised in Ntcheu on Monday.
The farmers have since pleaded with market operator, AHL Group, to ease the burden by setting up satellite depots in most hard to reach areas.
AHL Group has been opening centres in rural and hard to reach areas to facilitate remote booking and easy transportation of tobacco for farmers.
In an interview, Tisatope Club member, Fanuel Kadyanji of Kandeu village in Traditional Authority Ganya’s area in the district said apart from selling the leaf at low prices, lack of depots in rural areas remains a big challenge.
“The grievances that we have presented today are many; one of them is that of low prices, our leaf is always sold very cheap. Apart from that, as tobacco farmers, mostly in rural areas, we face a challenge of transporting our leaf to markets due to lack of depots nearby,” he said.
Limbe Auctions Floor Manager, Forge Maseko, assured the tobacco farmers that the firm would help towards finding lasting solutions to the concerns raised.
“We have already started this project, so far in Central Region four depots have been opened, two in the Northern Region and we are planning of having about four depots in the Southern Region,” Maseko said.
Maseko said last growing season was marred by numerous hiccups including high rejection rate and low prices.
Tobacco has been the dominant cash crop in the economy, accounting for approximately 58 percent of the country’s total export earnings.
This year the country sold 165.6 million killogrammes of tobacco realising $237 million at an average price of $1.43.
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