A.H. Vishwanath, MP, has said that a meeting involving the chairman of the Indian Tobacco Board, representatives of growers and elected representatives will be convened in the second week of June, to address the problems of tobacco growers in the State.

He asked Director (Auctions) of the board Manju P. Pillai to fix the date and venue for the meeting.

Mr. Vishwanath was addressing a gathering of representatives of tobacco growers, MLAs, MPs and board officials here on Saturday.

Almost all the participants said they were in favour of introducing RTC to the growers to make cultivation and marketing transparent. Only registered tobacco growers would be issued RTCs, the MP said.

The board members Mahadevu, Shivanna and Aboo Mohammad said RTCs should be issued to farmers.

Manjunath, Hunsur MLA, said farmers should be given a year's time to cope with the RTC plan. The board should have told the farmers well in advance that the RTC was a prerequisite to cultivate tobacco from this year, he said.

Ms. Pillai said RTCs were being issued to farmers to help them avoid dealing with commission agents.

The meeting assumed significance in view of the fact that tobacco cultivation should come to an end in the country by 2020, making India tobacco-free, as per the WTO agreement to which India is a signatory, Mr. Vishwanath stated. A. Manju, Arkalgud MLA, alleged that

there was no consensus at the meet about the board fixing the cultivable area.

Anantaramu, a farmer, favoured the introduction of an e-auction system to help farmers get a remunerative price. Ms. Pillai said the Commerce Minister had already agreed to this in principle.