Staff Correspondent

Over 20 major tobacco companies to take part in auction at Ramanathapura in Arkalgud taluk

  • Tobacco growers faced hardship last year owing to excessive rain
  • Production this year is likely to be around 13 million kg

    HASSAN: The Tobacco Board will start auctioning tobacco for the current season at Platform No. 7 in Ramanathapura town of Arkalgud taluk from September 6. Over 20 major tobacco companies are expected to participate in the auction, Auction Superintendent, Karnataka Leaf Tobacco Development Corporation, Shivarudraiah, has said.

    He told The Hindu that growers would get a better price if they supplied good quality tobacco. They had to grade the produce before bringing it to the place of auction, as companies would purchase samples in the initial stage. It would be easier for the auction process if growers brought tobacco in bales of 15 kg to 25 kg, he said.

    Last year, tobacco growers of Ramanathapura region faced a problem owing to excessive rain. Auctions began on September 5 and continued till February 3. The turnover was Rs. 55.07 crore and growers received an average price of Rs. 46.97 a kg. Depending on the grade, the price ranged from Rs. 20 a kg to Rs. 65 a kg.

    Reduced prices

    There was a considerable fall in the quality of tobacco grown in the Ramanathapura area owing to heavy rain and use of fertilizers last year, and growers were forced to market the low-quality produce at reduced rates.

    However, growers blamed the board for their plight and also accused middlemen from neighbouring States of having conspired against the growers of the region.

    Growers claimed that they received an average price of 45.63 a kg for the crop, which was cultivated on 12,000 hectares last year. The total quantity produced during last year 12.4 million kg. This year, according to Mr. Shivarudraiah, growers had cultivated the crop on 13,500 hectares and the quantity would be around 13 million kg. With good rainfall during the year and care taken by growers, production would be up by 1 million kg. He expressed the hope that growers would get a good price for the produce this year.

    He said there were only 7,400 registered growers in the area and they would not take illegal cultivators into account. Based on the demand, supply and quality, there would be fluctuation in the price, he said.

    Additional area

    He said in view of the problems faced by the growers in auctioning their produce last year, it had been decided to construct an additional platform with a 20,000 sq. ft auction area and a 10,000 sq. ft warehouse at a cost of Rs. 2 crore.

    Construction was fast progressing and was expected to be completed by October, he added.