By Mike Van Kamande MANA

Tobacco farmers in the country have been assured of fair and competitive tobacco trading as the Auction Floors opens next week for the 2022/23 tobacco selling season.

Speaking during a roundtable discussion on how to make this year’s tobacco selling season a success Minister of Trade and Industry Simplex Chithyola Banda said tobacco is the most important value chain for the country’s economy hence farmers should be rewarded accordingly.

“Cost of production for a Kg of tobacco has gone up because farm inputs have increased and therefore in all fairness farmers deserve good prices. Government is there to serve the interest of farmers and buyers hence appealing to the buyers to offer realistic prices in tandem with current production cost,” Chithyola said.

Tobacco Commission Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga said there is need to agree on a new template for cost of production because currently everyone has issues with it.

Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale said the issue of losing the leaf to the outside markets because of intermediate buyers needs collaboration among all players in the tobacco industry.

“The interest of government is that apart from offering farmers good prices that reflect current tobacco production cost the leaf should also be processed in the country. Our expectation is that tobacco farmers will smile all the way to the bank and change their lives,” he said.

Alliance Once Managing Director Simon Perville said his company is participating in this year’s tobacco trading on both auction and contract basis but their concern is on intermediate buyers and requested intervention from government.

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