Belying the hopes of farmers, the auctioning of tobacco, the principal commercial crop began on a ‘disappointing’ note for farmers in the Ongole region of the Tobacco Board on Thursday.

Only 4 to 5 bales were marketed with 13 players entering the market during e-auctions held for the first time at D.C.Palli and Kaligiri, Tobacco Board sources said.

Upset with Rs.120 per kg offered for high grade tobacco, the dejected farmers urged the Tobacco Board as also the Union and State governments to intervene in the market to ensure a fair price for their produce.

“With increasing cost of farm inputs, farmers should be given at least Rs.145 per kg for high grade,” Virginia Tobacco Growers Welfare Association president Ch.Seshaiah said.

The average price realised should not be less than Rs.125, he added.

If the present trend continued the farmers would end up getting an average price of Rs. 85 per kg, and that would cause huge loss as it happened last year, Mr. Seshaiah said. The farmers had not violated the crop size of 170 million kg fixed by the board and not much carryover stock was left with major players. The global market outlook was also promising. Yet the buyers had not offered a reasonable price to ryots, he lamented.