The poor demand for tobacco across auction platforms in the State may have led the Opposition Congress to make an appeal for immediate government intervention, but experts in the tobacco industry are hopeful of a turnaround in the demand for the commodity in the coming months.
More than a month after auctions started in Karnataka, the demand for tobacco has remained muted, raising concern among the farmers who are wary of COVID-19 dashing their hopes of making a decent earning.
A good 80 per cent of Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco cultivated in Mysuru region across Periyapatna, Hunsur, H.D. Kote and K.R. Nagar is exported for manufacturing cigarettes.
Several Congress leaders including former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Chamarajanagar MP R. Dhruvanarayan, besides Hunsur and H.D. Kote Congress MLAs H.P. Manjunath and Anil Chikkamadu respectively have raised the issue and urged the government to come to the rescue of the tobacco farmers immediately.
Congress leaders in Mysuru have referred to the intervention by neighbouring Andhra Pradesh government, where the Andhra Pradesh State Co-operative Marketing Federation Ltd or AP Markfed, purchased tobacco bales in July this year to arrest the fall in prices due to COVID-19 lockdown. AP Markfed purchased a total of 13 million kg.
However, sources in Tobacco Board as well as FCV Tobacco Growers’ Federation of Karnataka point out that demand for tobacco has been historically poor during the month of November as most of traders participating in the auctions will be awaiting confirmation of the orders for the samples