Angry with the failure of the Tobacco Board and MPs representing tobacco-growing regions to come to rescue of farmers facing a collapse in prices and demand, farmers’ organisations are planning to intensify their protest.
The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and Hasiru Sene, which has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the tobacco farmers, have threatened to stage a demonstration in front of the houses of Mysuru MP Pratap Simha and Chamarajanagar MP V. Srinivas Prasad on Sunday.
Though the KRRS convened a meeting in Periyapatna on November 18 and invited the MPs of the tobacco growing areas to participate and hear the grievances of the farmers, the elected representatives did not turn up. “They have failed to respond to our invitation. They did not attend the meeting nor assign representatives,” said KRRS leader Badagalapura Nagendra. So, the farmers’ body passed a resolution at the meet to hold a protest outside their residences on November 24, he said.
However, the police requested the organisation to shift the venue of their protest to the offices of Mr. Simha in Jaladarshini and Mr. Prasad on the CADA premises. “We will meet tomorrow morning to finalise the venue of the protest,” Mr .Nagendra added.
The farmers have also threatened to take out a rally followed by a convention in Periyapatna on November 28 to highlight their problems. Several sitting and former MLAs and MPs have promised to attend the meeting, he said. “If the grievances are not addressed, the farmers will have no option but to close the auction platforms,” warned Flue Cured Variety (FCV) Tobacco Growers Federation president Javare Gowda. He said the board should convene a meeting of tobacco traders comprising manufacturers and exporters so that the farmers’ grievances can be discussed.
The protest against fall in prices of tobacco comes at a time when Hunsur, a key tobacco growing area, is going to polls on December 5.
Though board officials contended that the prices of tobacco had improved for bright and medium grade variety and were catching up even for the low grade, Mr. Gowda said the farmers were not satisfied with the prices offered for medium and low grade. They contended that the traders were not buying low grade variety at auction platforms.
Board officials claimed that bright variety of tobacco was fetching ₹170 and ₹147 per kg respectively for bright and medium grade, which was more than the average price last year, and ₹109 per kg for low grade variety, which was, however, less than last year’s average price.