Agri Business

Covid-19 blues: Opinion divided among tobacco farmers on crop size

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on August 04, 2020

Tobacco growers at the Vellampalli auction centre in Prakasam district.   -  THE HINDU

Tobacco Board meet slated for August 5; some want the crop size to be cut, others demand same output

As the Tobacco Board is slated for August 5, opinion among farmers, who lost heavily due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is divided on the crop size. While a section of farmers, particularly small farmers, want the Board to cut back on output, others expect the Board to retain the size of 135 million kg for the season.

The Tobacco Board regulates the size of the crop in the country in order to control the output considering the concerns about the ill-effects of the produce.

While Karnataka grows it in the kharif season, farmers in Andhra Pradesh grow it in the rabi season. The August 5 meeting would discuss and decide the crop size in Andhra Pradesh.

The farmers, however, are divided. Some farmers, particularly in Ongole district, want the area to be restricted as they are still unable to sell the produce from the last season.

Despite the intervention of the Markfed in the State, the farmers are able to sell only 60 per cent of the produce (which is pegged at 138-140 million kg), leaving them in severe losses.

But FAIFA (Federation of All India Farmer Associations) argues that the Board should not reduce the crop size as it could lead to operational problems.

“I request you not to reduce the crop size for Andhra Pradesh any further, which will be detrimental to the already limping economic situation of FCV tobacco farmers,” Ch Yashwant, National Spokesperson of FAIFA, has said in an appeal to the Tobacco Board.

FAIFA General Secretary Murali Babu argues that the crop size, which used to be 175 m kg till a few years ago, has been reduced by 30 per cent to settle at 135 m kg.

“Farmers produced about 136 million Kgs of authorised FCV tobacco as against 175 million kg in 2015,” he said.

Marketing issues

The Covid-19 outbreak happened even as tobacco companies and traders were getting ready for procurement over the 18 auction platforms.

With the procurement delayed for over two months, the produce was exposed to harsh summer, resulting in dis-colourisation and reduction of moisture. As a result the quality of the produce came down.

With auctions set to resume, “There is a huge pile-up of stocks with the Markfed. Besides, the crop from the neighbouring Karnataka would be out soon. If you continue with the same crop size, there would be glut in the market, making it difficult for us to get a good price,” a small farmer felt.

Published on August 04, 2020

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