Andhra Pradesh

Despite COVID-19, tobacco growers get better average prices

A farmer waits for a buyer in an auction platform at Ongole in Prakasam district.   | Photo Credit: KOMMURI SRINIVAS

Despite truncated auctions in view of the second wave of Coronavirus, farmers in the traditional tobacco growing areas in Prakasam and SPSR Nellore districts have realised better average prices for different grades of tobacco this year.

Recovering from damages caused by cyclonic storm Nivar in the early phase of crop cultivation by going in for replantation, the farmers coming under the 12 Southern Light Soil (SLS) and Southern Black Soil(SBS) auction platforms produced a good quality crop with better grade out-turn.

However, for the second year in a row, the restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19 coincided with peak marketing season.

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With bright grade varieties accounting for a majority of the crop this year, the farmers realised about ₹14 per kg more on an average this time for over 66 million kg marketed as the e-auctions reached the fag-end. With the Tobacco Board staff and hamalis down with the viral disease, the auctions were suspended in the middle for about two weeks coinciding with the partial curfew enforced by the State government.

The farmers got a better average price of ₹147 per kg for the over 66 million kg marketed so far as against ₹133 per kg for 54 million kg marketed during the corresponding period last year, according to Tobacco Board sources.

This was despite exporters not entering the market in a big way in view of the uncertain market condition globally and the MARKFED, which intervened in the market last year, liquidating about half of the 12 million kg procured by it this year, mostly low grade varieties, outside the auction platforms, affecting the market sentiment.

Before the MARFED liquidated the stock on hand, the low grade varieties attracted buyers at about ₹100 per kg. The MARFED’s action had brought down the average price by about ₹15. “We have incurred additional costs this year in view of unseasonal rains. The MARFED’s untimely sale has put paid to our hopes of getting a better price for low grade varieties,” complained a group of farmers in Ongole.

The e-auctions are now over in Kaligiri, D.C.Palli in SPSR Nellore district and in Kangiri, Kandukur II, Podili, Vellampalli, Ongole II. The sale will be completed in Ongole I and Kandukur I by this weekend and the same would continue in Tangutur and Kondepi for another fortnight. The farmers are still left with a stock of about 3.8 million kg.

Farmers in the SLS region have so far liquidated 32.16 million kg and got an average price of ₹142.39 per kg. Their counterparts in the SBS region got an average price of ₹147.22 per kg for the 34.58 million kg sold by them so far. Bright grade accounted for the lion's share of 35 million kg in both the regions put together and fetched a relatively better price of ₹167 per kg. This helped the growers get a better average price this year, Tobacco Board sources said.


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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 8:47:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/despite-covid-19-tobacco-growers-get-better-average-prices/article35711737.ece

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