Tobacco auctions set to commence

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Amid high expectations from the farmers, e-auctions are set to commence at six auction platforms in Prakasam and Nellore districts from Monday.

Farmers coming under different auction floors in the Southern Black Soil(SBS) and the Southern Light Soil (SLS) regions took stock of the prevailing market conditions in Mysuru, at a meeting organised at the Tobacco Board Regional Office here on Sunday and decided to demand a per-kg price ranging between ₹180 and ₹200 for the bright grade varieties to start with.

Production of the Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco in the SBS and SLS regions put together is estimated to be between 90 and 95 million kg. The bright grade varieties are expected to be about 40 to 45% of the total crop, the medium grade varieties 25 to 30%, and the low grade varieties the remaining, according to the Tobacco Board sources.

“We want the Indian Tobacco Association to bail us out this year by offering better prices for our produce as the unseasonal rains last month led to false ripening of leaves and not-so encouraging grade out-turn. Labour cost has also gone up,” said former Tobacco Board member P. Bhadri Reddy after the meeting.

‘Buy tobacco waste too’

The farmers also wanted the Tobacco Board to purchase tobacco waste, as at least 8 to 10 leaves per plant turned out to be waste this time due to adverse climatic condition.

“We will not hesitate to stall the auctions if the prices offered by the traders is far below our expectations after seeing for a week or so,” farmer leader from Ongole II auction platform V.V. Prasad said.

The increase in the National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) on cigarettes proposed in the Union Budget is likely to adversely affect the fortunes of the farmers this year.

The sliding prices in the auction platforms in the Mysuru region do not augur well for the farmers here as their counterparts got an average price of only ₹120 per kg now as against ₹140 per kg till last month.

Untimely rains

Everything was fine for the farmers till December-end as they were able to grow the crop in the district to the full extent after five consecutive years of drought.

But the untimely rains in January hit the quality of crop as also productivity, especially in the areas coming under auction platforms of Tangutur I and II, and Kandukur I and II.

The ITA members were mulling an offer price of ₹170 per kg to start with and scale it up, or bring it down, as the auction progresses, according to the ITA sources.

Meanwhile, farmers started moving the high quality bales to the auction platforms of Ongole I, Velampalli, Kondepi, Podili and Kanigiri in Prakasam district and D.C. Palli in the neighbouring Nellore district after curing in barns, the primary processing units.

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