Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Tobacco Board decision on Karnataka crop today Growers plan stir against low prices
Guntur , May 4
TOBACCO farmers, especially those from southern black soils (Prakasam district), are planning to stage a demonstration in front of the Tobacco Board office here on Wednesday in protest against the low prices prevailing on the floors.
The production committee of the board is meeting on Wednesday to fix the crop size for Karnataka for the current crop year.
The tobacco farmers met at Ongole on Monday under the leadership of Mr Ch. Ranga Rao, a board member, and decided to storm the board on Wednesday to register their protest.
Till the April end, 41.57 million kgs of tobacco were sold on the floors in Andhra Pradesh at an average price of Rs 41.61 a kg out of the total authorised crop size of 108.44 million kgs. In the southern black soils of Prakasam district, 9.79 million kgs of tobacco were sold till April 30 at an average price of Rs 40.79 a kg, which is slightly less than the State average.
However, the farmers in the southern light soils who met at Ongole on Monday alleged that the trade was depressing prices by forming into a syndicate and the participation on the floors was also poor.
Trades sources, however, said there was not much demand for tobacco grown in black soils either in the domestic or international markets, after the collapse of the Russian market. The farmers in the soils had also grown a huge surplus this year.
Against the authorised 35.60 million kgs, the farmers had grown more than 50 million kgs and that was the main reason for the depression in prices.
To add to the woes of the farmers in those areas, unseasonal rains in January had also affected the leaf quality to an extent, added the sources.
On the whole, it is estimated, the farmers in Andhra Pradesh might have grown 25-30 million kgs surplus and the actual production might be in the range of 130-140 million kgs. This, according to sources, was also having an adverse impact on prices.
The farmers, of course, rejected the contention and argued the trade was playing foul.
As for Karnataka, it is learnt that the Indian Tobacco Association (ITA) has indicated a crop size of 74 million kgs and the production committee is scheduled to hold a meeting and take a decision on Wednesday.
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