Crop insurance for tobacco on anvil

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 18, 2012 19:21 hrs

Tobacco will become the first cash crop in the country to be covered by crop insurance in the country.

Tobacco growers, chiefly in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where the finest quality of tobacco is grown, will benefit from this.

It was initially proposed that the Centre should bear 50 per cent of the insurance, the states 25 per cent of the insurance cost, with the remaining 25 per cent coming from tobacco growers. But, realising that growers were not in a position to bear their share, the Tobacco Board is considering bearing 50 per cent of the farmers’ burden itself. If this is effected, growers will have to bear only 12.5 per cent.

Disclosing this, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari at the weekend said here in Mysore: “The proposal is almost in the finalisation stage or has already been finalised, adding that the Tobacco Board was fighting for insurance of standing crops of tobacco. This was an important policy for tobacco plant price stabilisation.”

The minister was speaking after launching the electronic auction system at platform four of the Tobacco Board of the Government of India at Periyapatna, the home of tobacco, in Karnataka.

With the inauguration of the auction facility, where buyers actively participated in the e-auctioning with hand-held terminals in a wireless networking environment, India became the first country to launch the technology initiative which brings about a transparency to the process. “Such a facility does not exist anywhere else in the world,” she added. This has put an end to physical bidding that had been practiced for the last 23 years.

Referring to the plea of Mysore MP A H Viswanath and legislators K Venkatesh (Periyapatna), H P Manjunath (Hunsur) and A Manju (Arkalgud) on bringing about a barn quota on a par with Andhra Pradesh and help the Karnataka tobacco growers, she said the board would look into the issue and when the matter came before the ministry, it would take a look at that too.

She promised to convene a meeting of all those concerned in New Delhi, as suggested by Viswanath, to sort out issues relating to the authorised crop size, penalty reduction, and more platforms for e-auctioning.

The minister defended the penalty imposed on the unauthorised cultivation by saying that the money was being ploughed back for the growers’ welfare by the board. Tobacco export from India had increased 27.6 per cent during 2012, compared to 2011. “India can take pride in this when other countries are reeling from the impact of the global economic meltdown,” Purandeswari said.

Board Chairman G Kamala Vardhana Rao said the board was making all arrangements to implement e-auction across all the 31 auction platforms - 20 in Andhra Pradesh and 11 in Karnataka.

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