The suspension has come at the end of the tobacco season, when only two million kilos of tobacco are remaining to be auctioned. The annual auctioning season began in the second week of September 2019 and was due to be finished by the end of March. Officials from the Tobacco Board told The Hindu, “We would have completed the auction of the entire tobacco by this weekend if it had not been for the lockdown.”
The report also stated that a total of 102 million kilos of tobacco have already been purchased, despite only 100 million kilos being the sanctioned crop size for the year. This is due to tobacco being cultivated by unauthorised growers and farmers cultivating tobacco beyond their sanctioned quantity.
The suspension comes at a time when tobacco had started to command a better price, due to non-availability of tobacco grown in China, President of Federation of VFC Tobacco Growers’ Association of Karnataka, Javare Gowda, told The Hindu. This came after heavy rains last year had resulted in a poorer grade of tobacco, meaning farmers were initially receiving lower prices. However, farmers who had held off selling their tobacco at the beginning of the season were starting to see better prices until the suspension was brought in. Gowda also urged the Tobacco Board to ensure that the auction is resumed as soon as the lockdown is lifted, to prevent farmers from losing the tobacco they had produced.