Mysore, Jan 27: Tobacco farmers of Karnataka are heaving a sigh of relief as they have received an all time high average price for their production this year and the stock has been 'sold out' almost a month and half before the scheduled closure of the auction season. The tobacco board sources told UNI here that a swift purchase was seen in the auction centres, as the exporters were vying with one another to purchase 87.6 mn kg of Virginia Flue Cued (VFC) variety of tobacco grown in Mysore region.
The average price of tobacco, which was Rs 55.94 a kg last season, rose to almost Rs 60 a kg this season because of the demand in the international market. Regional Manager of tobacco board, Mr Vishakantiah, said the tobacco auction platforms across Mysore region witnessed a swift transaction when the auction season began in the first week of September 2007.
The auction season, which would normally end in the last week of February, ended 15 days ahead this year, he said.
The average price of tobacco released by farmers this year was six per cent more than last year's, despite concerns over the depreciating value of the US Dollar making an impact on the tobacco growers.
The Virginia Flue Cured variety of tobacco, which was also called Mysore Neutral Filler Tobacco, had been scientifically proved to contain less cancer causing substances and minimal content of tar, than conventional tobacco, the sources added. The political turbulence in Zimbabwe, which had led to a slum in tobacco production from 230 mn kg to about 70 mn per year, had played a major role in the growing demand for tobacco from India.
An estimated 42,000 farmers, concentrated in Hunsur, Periyapatna and H D Kote in Mysore district, cultivated tobacco in 80,000 hectares of land, which was largely rain-fed, the sources added.
The Karnataka Virginia Flue Cured (VFC) tobacco growers association President Jaware Gowda attributed the better socio-economic condition of the farmers of the region primarly to the tobacco crop. There was no viable alternative crop to tobacco, he added.
He said China, the world's leading tobacco producer with an annual production of 2,000 mn kg, too participated in the auction of Mysore tobacco this season. A Chinese delegation visited the tobacco growing regions and placed orders with their agents for Mysore tobacco, he pointed out.
However, Mr Gowda said the farmers could receive still better prices on account of the prevailing situation, which was highly advantageous.
Meanwhile, the association strongly opposed the State Government's proposal to impose VAT on tobacco.