The Tobacco Board chairman has warned farmers against planting unauthorised crop. He said the farmers would not be allowed to bring unauthorised produce to auction centres.
Speaking to Business Standard, G Kamalavardhana Rao said the board had allowed planting of 175 million kg tobacco for the next season. Though the board permitted over 170 million kg for the just-concluded season, the farmers planted over 230 million kg. This practice is more prevalent in Karnataka.
Officially, over 207.58 million kg tobacco was sold this year at Rs 80.06 a kg. In the previous season, the sale was 203.94 million kg. The product received the highest price of Rs 113.97 a kg at the Koyyalagudem auction platform in West Godavari district, while the lowest was Rs 56.40 at the Vellampally platform in Prakasam district in the just-concluded season. In the previous year, the highest price was Rs 131.64 at Gopalapuram in West Godavari district, while the lowest was Rs 93.55 at the Thorredu auction platform in East Godavari.
“There are farmers who are not authorised but still raise the crop. This is causing problems for the board,” he said.
To keep a check, the board has formed special committees of ‘Field Friends’ with representatives of the Central Tobacco Research Institute, the Tobacco Board and a person representing the farmers. The members have been posted at all the auction centres and will interact with farmers on use of fertilisers and healthy processing and harvesting practices. They would also keep an eye on farmers increasing the crop area without permission, the chairman said.
Stating that the board would not allow unauthorised product in any auction centre, he said, “If a farmer grows more than what he is authorised to do, his product will be banned from the auction centre. Similarly, if any farmer grows tobacco without authorisation, the product will not be allowed into the auction centre,” he said. Field Friends would make this point clear to the farmers in the next couple of weeks and ensure that no unauthorised tobacco was grown anywhere, he added.
The decline in the price this year was due to subdued international market, he said, adding negotiations with exporters were on to help the farmers. “We are in talks with some big exporters and expect some positive response in the next couple of weeks. This will help the tobacco growers of Karnataka as the auction there is still in progress,” Rao said.
Exports, he said, stood at 104,248 million tonnes, valued at Rs 1,587.49 crore, from April to September, as against 11,4256 million tonnes, valued at Rs 18,28.47 crore, in 2009. Besides, the country exported 18,107 million tonnes tobacco products and 76,134 million tonnes flue-cured Virginia (FCV) in the just-concluded season.