Threaten to go on agitation from Monday if government does not intervene to ensure buoyancy
Tobacco growers in Prakasam district have decided to go on the warpath as prices for various grades decline in the wake of exporters not entering the e-auction centres in a big way in the traditional growing areas.
After taking stock of the lacklustre market condition at the auction platforms across the district, SBS farmers’ association honorary president P. Bhadri Reddy said, “We will have no option but to agitate from Monday if the Union and State governments do not intervene and ensure return of market buoyancy.”
Meanwhile, YSRCP farmers’ wing State president M.V.S. Nagi Reddy, after visiting the Ongole II auction platform, said, “There has been no improvement in the market condition even after Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s visit to the district.”
Though the leaf production had been about 10 million kg less than the crop size fixed by the Tobacco Board, the domestic players were hammering the prices, taking advantage of the inactive participation by the exporters, who were shying away from the market because of lack of confirmed orders from the overseas buyers, Mr. Reddy said.
‘Prices fall below MSP’
It was not just the tobacco growers who were denied a fair price for their produce. It was not just the tobacco growers who were struggling to cope with the market glut. Prices of almost all rain-fed crops, including bengal gram, black gram, groundnut, green gram, and maize ruled much below the minimum support price (MSP), he added. The Tobacco Board, which was flush with funds, thanks to the collection of penalty from the farmers for overshooting the crop size in the past, could purchase the low-grade tobacco to prevent the growers from committing suicide, he said.
“It is high time the Centre provided a compensation of ₹10 lakh to the farmers desiring to quit tobacco cultivation by dismantling their barns,” he said after listening to the farmers’ woes, along with YSRCP district farmers’ wing president Mareddy Subba Reddy.
The crop size had been drastically cut over the period, but the number of barns continued to be what it was when the crop size used to be about 200 million kg in the State, he pointed out.
“There has been a fall of 10 to 20% in the prices offered by the buyers for various grades. The rejection rate is about 20%, with no takers for the low- grade varieties and irrigated offstyles,” explained Tobacco Board’s Southern Light Soil (SLS) manager G. Ratnasagar.