To help tobacco farmers affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, the Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday decided to fix the minimum selling price (MSP) of the cash crop. Also, the government said the licences of companies, which do not buy the product through auction, would be cancelled.
In a digital meeting with the Tobacco Board, farmers and companies, Andhra Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy issued a directive to the officials concerned to intervene in the matter and help distressed farmers.
A special committee would be formed in the next 2-3 days to resolve the tobacco farmers' issues and the government would fix the MSP for high, medium and low quality tobacco, an official statement quoting the chief minister said.
"Purchases should be made in accordance with the prices in the state, if not the licences will be revoked," he said. The list of rates approved by the government would be available at the purchasing centers during the auction.
The licensed traders and companies should attend the auction process for stock purchase or else their licences would be cancelled, he said.
The Chief Minister said the Tobacco Board and the companies should work together in an organised manner and fix the minimum rate of all the three qualities of tobacco for sale.
During the meeting, the farmers shared their problems they faced at the purchasing centres in the state. The farmers said they were being given indent but the produce was not being purchased, and the price has fallen during the COVID-19 crisis, the statement said.
At the meeting, the Chief Minister said the government has purchased groundnut, banana and other crops directly from the farmers via the market stabilisation scheme. "We have made bulk purchases during the coronavirus scare to encourage farmers. Tobacco also will be purchased," he added.
Agricultural Minister Kurasala Kannababu, Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh, Environment Minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) chairman YV Subba Reddy and other officials along with representatives of the trading companies and farmers were present at the meeting.