Andhra Pradesh

Tobacco ryots protest fall in prices

Farmers torching tobacco on NH-16 at D.C. Palli in SPSR Nellore district on Saturday.

Farmers torching tobacco on NH-16 at D.C. Palli in SPSR Nellore district on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: K. Ravikumar

Block highway, threaten to boycott auctions from next week

Restive tobacco growers stalled e-auctions at the D.C.Palli auction platform in the SPSR Nellore district and resorted to road blockade on the Chennai-Kolkata highway on Saturday in protest against the falling prices for various grades of tobacco after the lockdown.

The farmers torched a few tobacco bales on the highway as the prices for the export-oriented crop plummeted when the e-auctions resumed after a two-month break following relaxation in the lockdown conditions by the Union government.

Police persuaded the ryots to stop the protest and restored vehicular traffic as a large number of vehicles got stranded on the expressway following the stir.

The farmers who were hoping for a price of ₹200 per kg for the bright grade were upset at the price dipping to ₹150 per kg. The price of low grade varieties had come down to ₹80 per kg, lamented a group of ryots led by Tobacco Growers Welfare Association in D.C.Palli Gali Narasappa Naidu.

The e-auctions which started on February 17 were suspended on March 23, coinciding with the nationwide lockdown.

“We will have no option but to boycott the auctions from next week if there is no improvement in the market condition,” the protesting farmers said. They wanted the Tobacco Board to declare a crop holiday during the next cropping season if it was not in a position to ensure a fair price for their produce.

Seek govt. intervention

Meanwhile, a delegation of farmers called on YSR Congress Party MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy in Ongole and urged him to impress upon Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to lead a delegation to New Delhi seeking the intervention of the Union Commerce Ministry.

The farmers were upset that the Tobacco Board had remained a mute spectator when traders drove down the prices on the pretext of fall in demand for tobacco in the international market due to the COVID-19 pandemic after giving indent at the time of fixation of crop size, former Tobacco Board member P. Bhadri Reddy said.

In the present situation, the farmers would incur a loss of about ₹3 lakh per tobacco barn, complained farmer leader from Ongole-II auction platform V.V. Prasad.

They were not able to market even 10% of the estimated tobacco production of about 90 to 95 million kg in the Southern Black Soil(SBS) and the Southern Light Soil (SLS) regions so far as the coronavirus outbreak coincided with the marketing season of the winter crop, said another farmer leader from Kandukur M. Ramanaiah.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:12:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tobacco-ryots-protest-fall-in-prices/article31660325.ece

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