In an unprecedented move, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has begun purchasing Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco from auction platforms on the southern light soils and southern black soils in Prakasam district. Since July 1, the State government through the AP Markfed has started buying tobacco in a bid to bail out crisis-hit tobacco farmers.
FCV tobacco auctions have begun on a dull note this year and as on previous Friday, 48.44 million kg of tobacco was sold, as against 72.98 million kg sold on the same day in 2019. The outbreak of COVID-19 has further dampened the mood at the auction platforms and with fewer exporters turning up, the AP Markfed has decided to jump into the fray.
While ITC continues to be a major player in tobacco purchases, the other big players too have shied away from auctions this year. FCV tobacco is still a remunerative crop for farmers in spite of vagaries of nature and, recently, the Tobacco Board has started encouraging farmers to switch to natural farming.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had convened a meeting with the Executive Director of the Tobacco Board and senior officers and said that the State government was ready to bail out tobacco farmers.
Active at 5 platforms
“The Markfed is now operating in five auction platforms, Ongole-1, Ongole-11, Kondepi in southern black soils and Podili and DC Palli in SLS region. The average price is in the range of ₹85 to ₹140 and by July 4, the Markfed had purchased 1.75 lakh kg,” said a senior official.
The target for procuring FCV tobacco this year is 137.81 million kg.
On a bright note, the average prices of all varieties – NBS, SBS, SLS and NLS – have shown some increase with the crop grown on northern black soils fetching ₹150.06 per kg as an average price followed by ₹156.64 per kg in NLS compared with ₹132.76 and ₹148.67 the previous year.