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Tobacco price stabilisation fund plan draws flak

Our Bureau

On the proposed price stabilisation fund, there was a prolonged heated debate without any conclusion.

GUNTUR, April 19

THE need to set up of a price stabilisation fund to ensure a remunerative price to the tobacco farmers was stressed by the Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister, Mr V. Sobhanadreeswara Rao, at a Tobacco Board meeting here on Wednesday.

The State Agriculture Minister, who convened the meeting at the behest of the Chief Minister to discuss the crisis in the AP market, said it was the responsibility of the trade to pick up the tobacco grown in the State as the farmers had not exceeded the authorised crop size.

He said the board should act against the defaulting traders and the excuse offered by the trade, that there were no export orders, was not tenable.

Dr P. Dayachari, Tobacco Board Chairman, said till now only 23 million kg of crop had been sold on the 21 floors in the State at an average price of Rs 41 a kg and at present roughly 6,000 bales or so were being sold on the floors every day.

``At least, 10,000 bales or more should be sold every day to conclude the auction process by June 30, as promised by the trade at an earlier meeting,'' he said.

On the proposed price stabilisation fund, there was a prolonged heated debate without any conclusion.

The Minister said the Chief Minister had written to the Centre to expedite the process and to treat the punitive cess collected from the farmers (Rs 21 crore or so) as their equity contribution.

``We have learnt that the National Council for Applied Economic Research, to which the matter had been referred, had recommended the creation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the purpose, with equity contributions from the farmers, the trade and the Tobacco Board,'' he said.

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