The Tobacco Board has put off its plans to introduce e-auctions to the last week of October.

The board had earlier planned to introduce e-auctions in all 11 auction platforms this month. “Unforeseen delay in preparatory work has forced us to delay the introduction of e-auctions in Karnataka,” K.N. Vishakantaiah, Tobacco Board Regional Manager, told Business Line.

“Till we introduce e-auctions, regular manual auctions will commence beginning September 26,” he added.

This crop year (2012-13), the area planted under tobacco is down 11.32 per cent at 94,000 hectares, compared with last year.

Last year, planted area stood at 106,000 hectares. The reduction is due to persistent drought conditions in all the tobacco growing areas of Mysore, Chamarajnagar and Hassan districts.

With the reduction in crop area, the trade and Tobacco Board expects 90 million kg (mkg) crop production in Karnataka.

“After conducting crop survey in all the districts, we observed that good amount of rains at few areas has facilitated good quality crop,” said Vishakantaiah.

In 2011-2012, a total of 100 mkg was fixed for the State and about 109 mkg was marketed at an average price of around Rs 92.10 a kg. Bright grades fetched Rs 119.21 and quantity marketed was 21.26 mkg.

Medium Grade Rs 101.24 for 50.08 mkg, low grades Rs 58.14 for 28.69 mkg.

Growers restless

The tobacco auctions in the State normally commence in the first or second week of September. But this year, due to delayed rain, it had to be put off to last week of September.

Delay in auction has made a few growers restless. Tobacco being a cash crop, few growers have borrowed from commercial banks for cultivation. In order to minimise their risks, they have resorted to direct selling to traders.

“Tobacco Board is aware of this development and has been advising farmers not to resort to distress sale. We are also telling them to have patience till auctions commence,” Vishakantaiah said.

Former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, who represents the tobacco growing regions in Parliament, has also appealed to the Karnataka tobacco growers not to go in for distress sale or yield to pressure from traders.

Gowda also urged the Tobacco Board to intervene and stop growers who are being forced to sell their produce to traders.

anil.u@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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