Revenue from Malawi’s major cash crop, tobacco, continues to drop with latest figures from market operator, AHL Group, showing that the country raked in $140.9 million from sales of the leaf by end of week 14 of the market, compared to $170.6 million realised during same time last year.
During the period under review, the country traded 92.7 million kilogrammes (kgs) of all types of tobacco at an average price of $1.52 per kg.
This is compared to 114.6 million kgs sold within the first 14 weeks of trading last year at an average price of $1.49 per kg.
Tobacco Commission Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala attributed the slowdown in market performance to Covid-19 pandemic.
Sadala said the pandemic forced the regulator, in consultation with stakeholders, to put stiff restrictions on trading.
“The kind of restrictions that we put on the market made it very difficult for us to move enough volumes as compared to last year but we hope for the best as we move forward,” Sadala said.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s top foreign exchange earner, although its share has been falling sharply in the past 10 years in response to changes in prices and weather conditions, and most recently, due to the global anti-smoking campaign championed by the World Health Organisation.
In 2014, Malawi realised $361 million from sales of 192 million kilogrammes (kgs) of all types of tobacco, which declined to $337 million in 2015. But output was static.
As at close of the 2018 marketing season, the country earned about $336 million against $212 million of 2017 after selling 106 million kgs.
In 2019, the country sold 165.6 million kgs of all types of tobacco, raking in $237 million.