The Federation of All India Farmer Associations, also known as FAIFA, a non-profit organization that represents the cause of farmers as well as farm workers of commercial crops in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka has asked the Centre to save their livelihoods in the current Covid-19 pandemic as the demand for the crop has weakened because of declining volumes of cigarettes & other tobacco products as a result of extended lockdowns.
FAIFA has demanded immediate resumption of auction for almost 130 million kg of flue cured tobacco worth Rs 1,700 crore under prolonged storage & estimated loss of Rs 200 crore to the growers due to deterioration in quality.
Over 330 million kg tobacco is lying in the open sky in Gujarat as growers fail to sell the produce. It has asked the Centre to immediately sanction a compensation amount of Rs 25,000 to each registered tobacco farmer for their survival & re-schedulement of crop loan.
It has cautioned that the failure to restore demand results in significant price drop in auctions & loss of farmer income, with devastating impact on farmers’ livelihoods in the drought prone & degraded tracts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh majorly depending on income from tobacco crop.
Farmers in Gujarat, whose tobacco produce is used in the making of bidi”s or other tobacco products are also struggling for income.
The farmers have also appealed to reduce taxation on cigarettes to pre-GST levels so that demand could be restored for domestic legal cigarette industry, which is already reeling under punitive taxation because of continuous increases in excise duties & compensation cess.
Besides all this, the Centre has also removed tobacco export incentives, making the country a less competitor in the international market, whereas other countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe are encouraging the tobacco farmers by offering incentives & subsidies.
President of Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), Javare Gowda, said that “We request the government to immediately begin the auctions in all Tobacco Auction platforms. The Government must also direct the Tobacco Board & other concerned officials to coordinate with FCV Tobacco Manufacturers, exporters & traders to facilitate reasonable prices for FCV tobacco produce at the auctions in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.”
He said, “As FCV tobacco farmers” are going through severe financial crisis, we request the Government to immediately sanction a compensation amount of Rs 25,000 each to all the registered FCV tobacco growers for survival.”