Tobacco growers in India had a terrible cropping season last year, and it looks like it is going to be a mixed bag of fortunes this year as well.
Tobacco curings began on a promising note. The bright grade tobacco variety accounted for a majority of the crop that was taken up for curing, according to the Indian Tobacco Association (ITA).
“Around four to five million kg (m. kg) of tobacco had been taken up for curing in 5,000 of the 20,000 barns in operation. Almost the entire crop happens to be bright grade, which fetches a premium price in the market,” confirmed ITA.
However, the parasitic weed, Orabanche Cernua, that had invaded 60% of fields, is expected to hit productivity this year at a time when the Tobacco Board has cut down the crop size by 52 m. kg.
Meanwhile, YSRC Whip in Parliament Y.V. Subba Reddy urged union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharam and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh to direct scientists from the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) to visit the fields and suggest ways to control the parasitic weed.
The farmers have resorted to ‘light flood irrigation’ in areas where water facility is available, which lessens the impact of the parasitic weed but affects the crop quality.
Bypassing the Tobacco Board, some private firms had started making purchases by offering a higher price of Rs. 130 per kg, complained a group of farmers coming under the Ongole II Auction platform and warned that they would resort to agitation if the authorities failed to act fast.