Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government has come to the rescue of tobacco farmers in the state and decided to fix the minimum sale price of high, medium, and low-quality tobacco. Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy has also directed officials to form a special committee to look into the challenges faced by the tobacco farmers.
Jagan took the decision after a meeting with tobacco farmers at his Tadepalli camp office on 18 June. The special committee will be headed by an IAS officer.
During the meeting, officials listed out the challenges they were facing due to the pandemic while the farmers told Jagan about the impact of the lockdown on their business. This year, traders have rejected 20 million kg of low and medium-grade varieties of tobacco which accounted for a majority of the produce, they said.
The farmers said they had been asked to harvest the crops but when it was ready to be sold, it was not reaching the auction centers. They said the prices were better before the outbreak of COVID-19 but now they are incurring huge losses. Companies that have registered to purchase the tobacco were not participating in the auctions.
After hearing their grievances the Chief Minister said the government will intervene and help the tobacco farmers. He said the list of rates approved by the government will be available at the purchasing centers during the auction. It will be mandatory for licensed traders and companies to attend the auction otherwise their licenses will be cancelled, he added.
Jagan stressed on introducing a feasible systematic methodology for all departments to ensure a more transparent process. “The board and the companies should work together and fix a minimum rate for all three qualities of tobacco. Purchases should be made in accordance with the state prices otherwise the licenses will be revoked,” he said.
The review meeting was attended by agriculture minister Kurasala Kannababu, education minister Adimulapu Suresh, minister for energy, forest, and environment Balineni Srinivas Reddy, TTD chairman Y.V Subba Reddy, and other officials. Representatives of tobacco trading companies and farmers were also present.