Rejection of low-grade tobacco worries farmers in Ongole

Rejection of low-grade tobacco worries farmers in OngoleTobacco auction centre in Ongole 1
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Farmers demanding the Tobacco Board to intervene immediately and see the companies make purchases as per the indents given by them and offer supporting price to them.As the low-grade tobacco occupies about 80 per cent of the production, the farmers are facing at least 35 per cent of loss in the expenditure they incurred.

Ongole: The continuous rejection of low-grade tobacco by the buyers are worrying the farmers, who are said to be already in the losses this year. The farmers complain that the continuing drought conditions in the district have reduced the production and yielded maximum low tobacco forcing them to lose more than 50 per cent of the money they invested on the crop.

They are demanding the Tobacco Board to intervene immediately and see the companies make purchases as per the indents given by them and offer supporting price to them. The Tobacco Board has permitted the farmers in the state to cultivate 136 million kgs of tobacco.

In Prakasam district, the board permitted to cultivate 84.61 million kgs of tobacco in 5,06,006 hectares but the farmers cultivated it in 55,164 hectares. Though the area is increased, they produced only 83.50 million kgs, instead of calculated 92 million kgs. In regular weather conditions, the farmers produce 60 per cent of the bright grade tobacco and 30 to 40 per cent of low-grade tobacco.

But due to scarcity of rain and drought in Prakasam district, the production of tobacco is reduced.

On average, the farmers are said to be spending about Rs 130 for production of one kg of tobacco. The tobacco companies are purchasing better grade tobacco bales at an average price starting at Rs 140 per kg and low-grade tobacco bales at an average price starting at Rs 91 per kg.

As the low-grade tobacco occupies about 80 per cent of the production and the rejection is nearly 30 per cent, the farmers are facing at least 35 per cent of loss in the expenditure they incurred.

Pammi Bhdadrireddy, former vice-chairman of the Tobacco Board said that only 5 or less percent of farmers will see profits in this season. He said that only 3 or 4 companies were participating in auction as they claim of not receiving orders.

He said the farmers were facing 50 per cent of loss this season due to drought condition in the district. The Virginia Tobacco Growers Welfare Association held a general body meeting in Ongole and passed resolutions demanding the intervention of Tobacco Board.

Chunduri Rangarao, Chunchu Seshaiah, Marella Bangaru Babu of that association said the farmers received an average price of only Rs 132 per kg even after they sold 20 million kgs. They complained that the companies were rejecting about 30 to 35 per cent of bales every day, even after reducing the prices for low grade.

They demanded the Tobacco Board to enter into the auction as per the Section 8(1) Rule NO 32 of the Tobacco Board Act 1975 and purchase the bales at a competitive price.

They demanded that the Board should see all registered companies participate in the auction and purchase the tobacco. They also demanded the government to provide a compensation of Rs 10 lakh per barn to farmers who are voluntarily coming forward to stop tobacco cultivation.

Tobacco Board Regional Manager of southern black soil G Umamaheswara Rao said the issues were being forwarded to Board authorities. He said the companies are said to be waiting for orders from foreign companies, as they already sent the samples to them.

He wished that the present situation would be bettered by the end of this month.

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