Chewing tobacco and spitting in public places has continued unabated, despite the state government banning the practice as a precautionary measure against Coronavirus.
Markfed entered tobacco auctions in Prakasam district on July 1 and it fixed a price of Rs 85 per kg for low grade tobacco.
Meanwhile, AP Markfed managing director PS Pradyumna discussed the impact of Markfed entry into the tobacco auctions with farmers.
Ministers K Kanna Babu, Balineni Srinivasa Reddy and Audimulapu Suresh formally inaugurated tobacco purchase through AP Markfed here on Thursday.
While the government will fix minimum sale prices for high, medium and low quality tobacco, all licenced traders will have to participate in the auction.
Later, union leaders met tobacco board chairman Y Raghunatha Babu at the regional manager’s office and expressed their anger for the low prices being offered for their produce.
Tobacco farmers have expressed their dissatisfaction over the low prices offered by buyers at Tangutur-2 auction centre.
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A truck bearing a fake ‘Vegetable Emergency’ sticker but carrying banned tobacco products smuggled from Madurai to Mayiladuthurai was stopped near Mayiladuthurai and its contents seized on Sunday.
The other three auction centres are Tangutur-1 & 2, and Kondepi.
The taskforce police and three town police, in a joint operation, seized prohibited tobacco products (gutkha) worth `1.10 lakh in Karimnagar on Wednesday.
Leaders of Tobacco Farmers Welfare Association said around 95 per cent of the produce is still with the farmers. Normally, 50 per cent of auction would be over by this time.
Tobacco auction has been delayed further after authorities announced red, orange and green zones in Prakasam district to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Sources indicated that the Board may ask farmers to cut sowing in Karnataka this year following the plunge in demand.
COVID-19: Prohibit use, spitting of smokeless tobacco in public places, health ministry tells states
Spitting in public places could enhance the spread of the COVID-19 virus," the ministry said in a letter to chief secretaries of all states and union territories.