Rajahmundry: Tobacco farmers, industrialists, scientists and officials from the Tobacco Board, Tobacco Institute of India (TII) and Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) have opined that long-term plan is needed for alternative farming of tobacco. While the TII has denied the higher side of taxation on cigarettes the Tobacco Board and CTRI have come forward to give best price and new varieties to farmers for production of qualitative tobacco on the whole.
TII Director Udayan Lal in his inaugural address of TII Tobacco Farmers Awards function held here on Monday said that 15 per cent of cigarettes were generating 85 per cent income and central excise.
He said high taxation was leading to excise evasion and shifting to cheaper tobacco products.
The Government should tailor the stringent regulations on cigarettes to Indian conditions and not go by WHO recommendations. He sought introduction of crop substitution in a phased manner.
J. Suresh Babu, Chairman, Tobacco Board, said farmer was the best scientist and it was better to leave the decision of alternative crop to farmer. Electronic auction system would be introduced at 30 centres in the country, he said.
Bhadrachalam MP Miriyam Babu Rao who presented awards to progressive tobacco farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, said high taxation would not stop the habit of smoking and it was better to reduce the crop size in phased manner.
Veeranki Krishna Murthy, Director, CTRI, also spoke. Tobacco Board members C. Venkateswara Rao and P. Badri Reddy also participated in the awards function.