TC decries rampant smuggling

TC decries rampant smuggling

The Tobacco Commission (TC) and the police in Mchinji yesterday detained a two-tonne truck carrying flue-cured tobacco suspected to be smuggled to Zambia.

This follows the confiscation in Namitete on Thursday of another two-tonne truck transporting burley believed to have been heading to Mozambique.

One of the trucks intercepted at Silombe Village in Namitete, Lilongwe on Thursday

The actual volumes of the confiscated tobacco in both cases are yet to be determined, according to TC public relations officer Telephorus Chigwenembe.

He has since wondered why cases of smuggling are rising at a time prices for the leaf are better than the previous years.

“As we can see, tobacco prices are attractive in the selling floors. We don’t see the reasons for farmers to be tempted to smuggle it. They will lose their investment because we continue confiscating all tobacco being sold illegally,” Chigwenembe said.

On Thursday, the commission and police also seized 447 kilogrammes of tobacco from a Rumphi businessperson suspected to have bought the leaf without a licence.

Four weeks ago, police in Mchinji also intercepted a truck carrying 48 bales of flue-cured tobacco which was about to be smuggled.

The tobacco was later sold at Lilongwe selling floors under the Tobacco Commission’s registration number.

The commission and police are on an anti-illegal tobacco trade monitoring across the country.

During the opening of this year’s tobacco selling season at Chinkhoma in Kasungu on April 15, President Lazarus Chakwera lamented illegal cross-border tobacco trade, observing that the practice denies the country of foreign exchange.

Meanwhile, as of week-four, up to 30 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco valued at $81 million (about K142 billion), has been sold at an average price of $2.70 (about K4 727) per kg.

This year, the country is estimated to have produced 140 million kg of the tobacco against a 190 million kg demand.

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