VIJAYAWADA/ONGOLE:Coming to the rescue of tobacco farmers whose produce has been rejected citing discolouration, the Central and state governments have announced a joint package to bail them out.
Farmers whose tobacco was rejected at the tobacco auction platforms will be provided Rs 20 per kilo of tobacco with the Central government sharing 75 per cent, that is Rs 15 a kg, and the state government bearing the rest (25 per cent, that is Rs 5 per kg).
Announcing it at a joint press conference here Friday, union minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had urged the traders to come forward to procure tobacco. Sitharaman said even if the farmer gets Rs 40 per kilo at the auction, the joint package announced by the Union and state governments will help him get around Rs 60 a kg.
She said till September 15, a total 143.75 million kg of tobacco out of the permitted 172 million kg was procured. Apart from the balance 28.22 million kg, there is a stock of another 21 million kg cultivated unauthorisedly. The Minister said she is relaxing the rule that any excess cultivated stock should only be procured after 90 per cent of the regular stock has been procured, with effect from Friday itself.
Expressing her anguish over the death of two tobacco farmers, she called upon the farmers not to take the extreme step and promised all necessary measures to help them out. She said regular tobacco will be procured by September end at the price agreed upon in July. The chief minister asked the traders not to take advantage of the situation and pose problems for the farmers who are already in distress.
Earlier, the union minister accompanied by agriculture minister P Pulla Rao, transport minister Sidda Raghava Rao, MPs YV Subba Reddy, M Rajamohan Reddy and officials visited the families of the two tobacco farmers who committed suicide and consoled them.
She first visited the Tobacco Auction Platform 1 in Ongole and interacted with farmers. From there, she went to Ponduru village in Tangutur mandal and consoled the family members of a tobacco farmer B Krishna Rao, who committed suicide recently. Later, she inspected another Tobacco Auction Platform at Kandukur and consoled the family members another tobacco farmer N Venkata Rao, who also committed suicide in his village of Konda Samudram under Valletivaripalem mandal.
Promising to have the stocks of tobacco procured by the month end, the minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on addressing farmers’ issues. She said that the government will take measures to purchase excess stock of tobacco from farmers apart from the permitted level to do justice to all tobacco growers.
Minister’s Convoy Stopped
Tobacco farmers under the banner of AP Farmers’ Association staged a protest and obstructed the minister’s convoy in Kandukur. They confronted the union minister for completing her visit without giving any assurance to protect the interests of tobacco growers. However, with the minister promising to look into their concerns, they withdrew the protest and allowed the convoy to leave the place.