Tobacco Board Chairman K.Gopal
Enthused by their counterparts in Karnataka getting higher average price, tobacco farmers here are hoping to realise a better price as e-auctioning of the principal commercial produce is all set to commence at eight platforms in the Ongole region of the Tobacco Board from February 17.
Speaking after reviewing the arrangements made in Ongole I, Kandukur I and II, Podili I and II Kondepi, Kaligiri and D.C.Palli auction platforms covering the crop grown in Southern lights soils(SLS), Tobacco Board Chairman K.Gopal said the Board’s initiatives to help farmers produce chemical residue free tobacco by adopting good agronomic practices including bio-pesticides had paid dividends. Under E-auctioning, it is a win-win situation for both farmers and traders. Besides ensuring transparency and accountability, the auctioning process can be completed quickly. “We planned to complete the auction process by June so that the quality of tobacco does not get affected,” he added.
“We will be able to meet fully the international buyers preference for clean tobacco,” a confident Mr.Gopal said.
Registering a record tobacco exports worth Rs. 5,000 crore last year, he said the exports would go up another Rs. 1,000 crore during this fiscal.
The Chairman, who won appreciation from the farming community for effectively curbing illegal sales outside the auction platforms last year, warned of cancellation of licence of farmers and traders indulging in illegal activity.
Major players, including Indian Tobacco Company (ITC), Godfrey Phillips India (GPI) and Ethnic Tobacco (P) Ltd, are likely to enter the market as e-auction auction commences on Monday.
Peasants, who had burnt their fingers by growing Bengal gram last season, had grown tobacco in 1,23,587 hectares this year.
Thanks to congenial climatic condition, bright grades this year accounted for 60 to 70 per cent of the total production of about 180 million kg as against the crop size of 172 million kg fixed by the Board.
Ryots in Karnataka getting a better average price of Rs.137 per kg in 2013-2014 as against Rs.121 augured well for the growers in Andhra Pradesh. Bright grade of tobacco grown on NLS soil in the state attracted buyers at Rs.198 per kg last year.
With the cost of production going up by 20 we expect at least Rs 125 per kg on an average, Virginia Tobacco Growers Welfare Association President Ch. Seshaiah said while talking to The Hindu . The global scenario coupled with weakening of the rupee also favoured the ryots, he added.