Andhra Pradesh

Tobacco growers favour cut in crop size

A farmer checking the quality of tobacco at Ongole II auction platform.

A farmer checking the quality of tobacco at Ongole II auction platform.   | Photo Credit: Kommuri Srinivas

They ask crop regulator to factor in quantity purchased by Markfed

Ahead of the Tobacco Board meeting on August 5 to finalise the crop size for 2020-21 season, farmers in the traditional tobacco growing areas in Prakasam and Nellore districts on Thursday urged it to cut the crop size by 20% for them to take advantage of the demand-supply situation.

The lockdown-hit farmers wanted the crop regulator to take into account the quantity of tobacco purchased by Markfed while fixing the crop size for the coming rabi season.

Market intervention

The outbreak of coronavirus had adversely affected the quality of leaf in the form discolouration and weight loss. But for Markfed’s entry into the auction platforms, they would have incurred heavy loss of up to ₹3 lakh per barn, they said after taking stock of the situation in the 12 auction platforms. The intervention by Markfed had created demand for low grade varieties hitherto rejected by the traders.

YSRCP farmers’ wing Prakasam district president Mareddy Subba Reddy said, “While directing the Markfed to intervene during the next cropping season as well, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted the growers to cut down on production to realise better prices for the produce.”

Traders’ game plan

It had become a habit for the traders to project an exaggerated crop requirement at the time of crop fixation, and shy away from auction platforms at the time of marketing, lamented Southern Black Soil Farmers’ Association honorary president P. Bhadri Reddy.

This year too, the situation was no better as they adopted a wait-and-watch attitude, hoping that the Markfed, with no carrying capacity, would withdraw from the market sooner or later for them to knock away with the produce at a throwaway price, he opined.

He pressed for introduction of contract farming in cultivation of flue-cured Virginia tobacco as in the case of white burely. The growers of the latter variety got a better price in view of the agreement reached with the cigarette manufacturers.

‘Ensure MGP’

The Tobacco Board should convince the traders to announce a minimum guaranteed price (MGP) at the time of crop fixation itself so that the farmers could take a well-informed decision whether to grow the crop, or switch over to other crops, said Ongole II Farmers Association president V.V. Prasad.

Farmers in the Southern Black Soil and Southern Light Sol regions are left with 38.22 million kg after marketing 51.84 million kg, realising an average price of ₹132.64 per kg during the prolonged auctions, Tobacco Board sources said.

Markfed has so far purchased 5.12 million kg, mostly low grade varieties, at an average price of ₹82.68 per kg.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 7:37:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tobacco-growers-favour-cut-in-crop-size/article32234448.ece

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