There is No Sustainable Alternative to FCV Tobacco

A 2004 study conducted by the Government of India’s Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) has outlined that there is no single crop which is an economically viable alternative to FCV tobacco.

In 2000-01 an over-supply situation had led to the declaration of a crop holiday for FCV Tobacco during which tobacco crop was not planted in Andhra Pradesh. During this crop holiday period, farmers grew alternative crops such as Red Gram, Bengal Gram, Black Gram, Green Gram etc., and in very limited areas with water resources they grew Paddy and Sugarcane.

The 2004 CTRI study on the impact of the crop holiday showed that the value realization from other crops amounted to only Rs 175 crore as against Rs 400 crore from FCV tobacco in the previous year, resulting in a loss of Rs 225 crore to the farming community, this included Rs 72 crore in reduced income due to loss of working man-days.

The feasibility of FCV tobacco can be gauged from the fact that in the succeeding year, farmers reverted to the FCV tobacco crop in four-fifths of the area. Moreover, year after year, farmers produce tobacco in excess of the crop authorized by the Tobacco Board, despite having to pay penalty for excess production. This trend not only reinforces the remunerative nature of the crop but also highlights the problems associated with cultivating and marketing other crops.

Tobacco growers select a crop for cultivation based on their experience and by gauging the crop’s earning potential. FCV Tobacco has withstood the test of time for the farming community and thus they have been growing this crop year after year for many decades now.

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