Tobacco farmers boycott auctions

TAKE TO STREETS :Tobacco growers agitating for remunerative price in Ongole on Saturday.  

Special Correspondent

Rally taken out demanding remunerative price for their produce

ONGOLE: Tobacco farmers boycotted auctions at the second platform here on Saturday to protest against declining prices for their produce.

Traders purchased tobacco at Rs. 4,800 to Rs. 5,000 a quintal in the first round of auctions at Ongole second platform. But when the second round started on March 8, they started slashing the prices by Rs. 100 per day and brought down the prices to Rs. 4,400 on Saturday. The incensed farmers boycotted the auction and came out of the platform. They came in a procession to Prakasam bhavan wearing black badges and raised slogans demanding remunerative price for their produce.

Plea to DRO

They later met District Revenue Officer B. Rama Rao and submitted a memorandum to him. They said that traders got orders for 125 million kg of tobacco this year. But production has declined to 90 million kg. So the farmers expected the demand to go up and hoped to get a good price for their produce.

Their hopes were dashed as traders began slashing the prices as the auctions progressed. They told the DRO that they had purchased the seedling at abnormal prices this year and all expenses, including the cost of firewood necessary for curing of the leaf skyrocketed.

Fair deal promised

But they wanted the Government to intervene and save the situation. Mr. Rama Rao assured them of taking the issue to the notice of the State Government and also Tobacco Board.

Farmers leader Polavarapu Srimannarayana said that a similar situation prevailed at all auction platforms in the coastal areas. Tobacco grown on southern light soils in upland areas of Prakasam district, however, fetched better price this year.

Auctions also started early in those platforms where farmers have been able to sell away most of their stocks.

Farmers of black cotton soil, however, faced a string of problems as the auctions began late and traders refuse to pay them remunerative price for the produce, he said.