The Commission’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Joseph Chidanti Malunga says the decline is attributed to the late onset of rains and other natural disasters experienced this current growing season.
“A detailed report on the final estimates will be released this week,” said Malunga in readiness for the opening of this year’s marketing season month-end.
Dr. Malunga was speaking in Dowa on the sidelines of a tree planting exercise in tobacco growing areas in response to set standards in protecting the environment.
He said the commission is this year introducing measures to maximize profits farmers get after selling their tobacco following recurrent concerns on prices from farmers.
One of the farmers, Traditional Authority Kayembe appealed for the government's serious consideration on prices buyers offer which impacts yields and earnings towards the country’s economy.
“When you ask a grower, they will immediately talk about prices but there is more to that. The benefits that go to a grower are the ones that are shrinking so we are trying to widen the benefits” disclosed Dr. Chidanti.
The first thing is a reduction of withholding tax from 3% to 1%percent and regulation of loan repayment growers get during contracts with buyers beginning this year.
He said, “what was happening before is that buyers would submit names of the people that owe them straight to AHL without vetting them and approval from Tobacco Commission so this year the buyers are no longer going to submit loan lists straight to AHL with the approval of the Commission.”
The system it is said resulted in growers being deducted money on loans for other crops such as maize, soybeans, and groundnuts other than tobacco hence diminishing their profits from tobacco sales.
Last year, growers realized $197.1 million (about K160 billion) from 123.7 million kilograms of tobacco presented to the markets.