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November 05, 2009

Malawi tobacco sales drop

Sales of Malawi’s main cash crop tobacco dropped nine percent to 433 million dollars (293 million euros) this year, as prices at the auction floor fell by nearly a quarter, the country’s crop watchdog has said.

“The tobacco market suffered some price setbacks and average prices were down by 23 percent per kilo this year,” said Bruce Munthali, general manager of the Tobacco Control Commission.

Despite a record harvest of 208 million kilos of burley tobacco, average prices dropped to 1.86 dollars per kilo, from 2.42 dollars last year, he said.

Malawi is the world’s biggest exporter of burley, which is a thin-leafed variety dried in the open. The industry employs about 500,000 people.The country produces 22 percent of the global supply of burley, which Munthali said could give the nation an edge in luring more buyers.

“Market control puts Malawi at a competitive position in burley production and could help in attracting more buyers into the market,” Munthali said.

The crop known as the “green gold” fetches up to 70 percent of the country’s foreign exchange.


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