Laiqh A Khan

In 2006-07, farmers paid more than Rs. 9 crore as fine

MYSORE: In a major concession to tobacco growers, the Union Government has slashed the penalty imposed on tobacco farmers for growing excess quantity of the crop.

Tobacco farmers, who were paying a penalty of 15 per cent on the total value of tobacco sold in excess of their authorised limit besides the Rs. 2 for every kg of the excess produce, will now have to pay only 5 per cent on the value of excess tobacco and Rs 1 a kg on the produce.

“The Tobacco Board has received a communication in this regard from the Union Ministry of Commerce last week,” Tobacco Board member Javare Gowda told The Hindu. The relief comes after the farmers pressured the authorities in the regard. With a view to regulate tobacco cultivation, the Tobacco Board fixes a ceiling on the crop size and authorises each licensed farmer to grow a pre-determined quantity of crop in each barn. Whenever the tobacco produced by the farmer exceeds the quantity prescribed for each barn, a penalty is levied.

Ever since the Board began collecting a penalty of 15 per cent on the volume of excess tobacco and Rs. 2 for every kg of the produce since 2002, the farmers have been losing heavily. “During 2006-07, tobacco farmers paid more than Rs. 9 crore in the form penalty. Imposition of such a steep penalty was hitting the farmer hard,” Mr. Gowda said.

However, the Tobacco Board had not only increased the crop size from 95 million kg during 2007-08 to 100 million kg for 2008-09, but it also fixed 1,750 kg for each barn that is normally spread across one hectare of land.

More than 41,000 licensed farmers across Karnataka grow tobacco in 86,000 hectares of land mostly in Periyapatna, Hunsur and K.R. Nagar taluks of Mysore district.

The Union Government’s decision to reduce the penalty comes at a time when the farmers are looking forward to a good price for their produce in view of the rise in international demand and price of the commodity.

The auction season in Andhra Pradesh saw the tobacco purchased for a good amount. “Hence, the farmers are looking forward to a good rate”, he said.

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