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Thursday, Jun 10, 2004

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Tobacco sales enter final phase in AP

Ch R.S. Sarma

So far, 85.14 million kg have been sold and auctions may get over by mid-July.

Guntur, June 9

THE tobacco auctions in Andhra Pradesh are entering the final phase with 85.14 million kg (mkg) sold so far at an average price of Rs 38 a kg.

The auctions are expected to end sometime next month. Mr K.J.B.V. Subrahmanyam, Executive Director of the Tobacco Board, said on Wednesday that the board had opened a third floor near Ongole in Prakasam district to expedite the auctions. `

`We are hopeful of completing the auctions by mid-July or so,'' he said. Answering a query on the fixing of crop size for Karnataka, he said the trade had indicated that it would be able to buy 74 mkg.

``According to trade circles, there is a good demand for tobacco grown in the light soils of Karnataka, as it is low in nicotine content and it is a neutral filler variety blending well with different tobaccos in cigarette manufacture,'' he said.

The farmers and their representatives from Karnataka were pressing the board to peg the crop size at 74 mkg but ``there is opposition from the Andhra farmers and their representatives who want the crop size to be somewhere below 55 mkg.''

Last year, the Tobacco Board had fixed the crop size in Karnataka at 53 mkg and there was a surplus of 20 mkg and the trade had absorbed the surplus.

Mr Subrahmanyam said the Tobacco Board had referred the issue of Karnataka crop size to the Union Ministry of Commerce and was awaiting a decision.

On the question of surplus in Andhra Pradesh in the current season, he said initially it had been estimated that the actual production might be of the order of 135-140 mkg against the authorised crop size of 111 mkg.

``But the revised estimates have not come in yet,'' he added.

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