The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) has appealed to the government to immediately start the auctions of tobacco to save the lives of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat.
It said the government should also direct the Tobacco Board and other officials concerned to coordinate with FCV tobacco manufacturers, exporters and traders to facilitate reasonable prices at pre-covid level at these auctions.
The body also urged the government to immediately sanction a compensation of Rs 25,000 each to all registered tobacco growers for their survival.
It said tobacco growers are suffering under the Covid-19 lockdown, as the demand for their crop has weakened due to declining sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
FAIFA president Javare Gowda said,“Failure to bail out the current duress for tobacco farmers will force many of them into debt trap which will virtually kill the ecosystem comprising of marginal farmers, workers, and people employed in handling and transportation activities while pushing the farmers to extreme measures.”
The tobacco farming community is undergoing severe stress to sell its harvest and also cope up with mounting labour and infrastructure charges due to interruption to auctions following the lockdown.
Nearly 130 million kg of flue-cured tobacco worth over Rs 1,700 crore is waiting to be sold as the tobacco auctions are moving at snail’s pace, causing quality loss under prolonged storage, it said.
Gujarat farmers, whose tobacco produce is used to make bidis and other products, are also struggling for their livelihoods.
More than 330 million kgs of tobacco worth Rs 2,700 crore is lying in the open fields as the traders are not ready to pick up the produce.
The rains are expected in coming days and if the government will not start the sale of tobacco products both traders and farmers will go bankrupt, it said.