Staff Reporter

Ryots demand that the opening offer be put at not less than Rs. 120 per kg

Mediation efforts by Tobacco Board prove futile

Intervention of board sought

ELURU: The tobacco trading in the current season began on Friday in West Godavari district on a turbulent note with the protest by growers seeking a fair deal. As a result of the boycott by the growers, the trading came to a grinding halt on all the auction platforms at Devarapalli, Koyyalagudem and Jangareddygudem.

The traders commenced the auction with an opening offer of Rs.100 per kg of the produce of superior quality to the much disliking of the growers. The farmers demanded that the opening offer be put at not less than Rs. 120 per kg, leading to a deadlock. The mediation efforts by the authorities of the Indian Tobacco Board on all the platforms proved to be of no avail as the traders refused to lift the stocks for a price sought by the growers.

The growers expected the auctioning to begin with an initial offer of Rs. 120 for the produce grown in the northern light soil (NLS) region covering parts of Orissa, Khammam, West and East Godavari districts, keeping in mind the price trends in Karnataka. The Virginia tobacco was raised in 55,000 acres in West Godavari district this year. The crop witnessed a drop in yield this year for a variety of reasons, including delay in transplantation leading to a decline in its weight and rise in the ‘death rate’ of plantations up to 7-8 per cent.

“It all led to a decrease in the yield by 50-75 kg per acre”, says V.V.S. Rama Rao, a spokesman from the Virginia Tobacco Growers Association. Expenditure on the crop went up as a result of the increase in the labour cost and input cost manifold, leaving the growers with no margins, he added.

“If there is no positive sign with regard to the prices, survival will become quite difficult for the traders”, Mr. Rama Rao said while seeking the intervention of the Tobacco Board for the benefit of the growers.