A nominal increase of 2.5 to 3.5 quintals in the per barn quota offered by the Tobacco Board has left the farmers disappointed in the traditional growing areas in Prakasam and Nellore districts.
The farmers coming under the Southern Light Soil (SLS) and the Southern Black Soil (SBS) regions have been pitching for a minimum of 40 to 45 quintals per barn for the 2021-22 cropping season.
However, the crop regulator, on August 16, had decided to offer only 33.5 quintals per barn in the case of SLS region and 32.5 quintals per barn in the case of SBS regions.
The quota in both the regions was only 30 quintals per barn during the last cropping season.
While fixing the crop size at 130 million kg, the Tobacco Board authorised 43.68 million kg for growers in the SLS region and 37.44 million kg for their counterparts in the SBS region.
“We will not be able to break even in the wake of only a marginal increase in the per barn quota this year,” farmers in Kandukur lamented, and wanted the Tobacco Board to reconsider its decision.
The decision went against the recommendation of the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) of an optimum curing capacity of 55 quintals per barn to make good the economies of scale, contended a farmer, T. Ramanaiah.
Farmers under the rain-fed condition grow the crop in seven acres per barn, and end up paying penalty to the Tobacco Board for excess crop, or take additional barn on lease incurring additional expenses, explained another farmer V.V. Prasad.
Farmers in the drought-prone areas in both the districts cultivate the crop without any other viable economic alternative.
Without a choice, the farmers stick to tobacco cultivation in view of water scarcity, expecting some decent returns, said a farmer from D.C. Palli G. Narasappa Naidu.
“There has been a 10% increase in the cost of cultivation year after year. In the present condition, we will have to burn our fingers by growing the crop,” lamented yet another farmer, P. Bhadri Reddy.
The Tobacco Board used to give more quota per barn for the farmers in the SLS and SBS regions when compared to their counterparts in the Northern Light Soil region with better irrigation facility. The difference used to be up to 15 quintals per barn till 2010.
“But the difference in the quota per barn is now negligible among the regions,” said a farmer from Podili, S. Venkateswara Reddy, referring to the quota of 32 quintals per barn fixed now for the NLS counterparts.
While the trade sought a higher crop size of 45 million kg in the SBS region, the crop size was fixed 7.50 million kg less at 37.44 million kg, lamented a farmer from Ongole, Bandaru Ramanjaneyulu.
Thanks to better grade out-turn this year, the farmers realised a better average price of ₹141 per kg for the over 70 million kg marketed this year against the average price of ₹116 per kg last year, according to Tobacco Board sources.