Tobacco farmers continue to be at the receiving end of predatory traders. According to market analysts, farmers lost about Rs 400 crore for the expense of the low prices offered by traders. They were forced into panic selling for lower prices to wait and see approach merchants.
More than 90% of registered exporters and buyers kept away from the market for nearly two and a half months, leaving the entire platform tobacco auction at the mercy of the tobacco giant – Indian Tobacco Company (ITC). According to recent reports, more than 135 million kg of shares were sold for total authorized products 161 million kg this season.
While farmers are expected to at least 100 rupees per kilogram of low-grade tobacco, the middle class has demanded Rs 120 per kg. On the other hand, manufacturers of premium grade expected a price of RS 130 and RS140 per kg, but dealers do not even pay 110-120 rupees per kg. The low grade tobacco brought Rs 63 per kg for farmers, while the middle class went to 85-90 rupees per kg. “The rise in prices by 15 rupees per kg would help farmers profit Rs 120 lakh,” said former MP Yalamanchili Shivaji.
A former board member of Chunduri Rangarao argued that traders offered low prices for farmers, although there was a huge demand for Indian tobacco in the world market.
Recognizing that the absence of the leading players at the auction platforms have been put an end to the hopes of manufacturers, a senior official of the Board of Control said that the situation could be worse if the Council does not intervene to put pressure on the trading community.
Chairman of the Board Kamalavardhan Rao warned dealers that their move could provoke unrest in the farmers, who can declare the feast of harvest, and leave them in confusion. However, the exporter Tadisetty Muralimohan blamed it on poor export orders in the first days which kept them from auctions.
Prediction for next season to be “useful” year for exporters of tobacco, tobacco products, chairman G Kamalavardhan Rao suggest that they offer better prices for farmers. Speaking at a meeting at Ongole after the inauguration of the regional council office here, the Chairman stated that there were signs of lack of production in Brazil and Zimbabwe, which may be beneficial for Indian tobacco in the international market.
“So try to help farmers by offering them a decent price now. This will help you, too,” he suggested. He said that the farmer would make a good income to get a good harvest and help the exporter to get good prices on the international market. He said that the interests of farmers should be borne in mind.