The Jakarta Post
Virginia tobacco farmers in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), are hoping that the government can intervene by setting a price floor for leaves in this year’s harvest period so that prices will not drop further.
East Lombok-chapter Indonesian Tobacco Farmers Association (APTI) chairman Apifuddin said the government had not yet determined the base price of Virginia tobacco leaves for this year.
“The current selling price still refers to last year’s price, whereas production costs have increased for farmers,” he told The Jakarta Post in a recent interview.
Apifuddin said tobacco growers in East Lombok and NTB in general were facing a difficult situation this year because of extreme climate change and a wet dry season, during which there has been more rainfall than usual.
As the result, he further said, the quality of the Virginia tobacco leaves produced was not good as they contained excess water.
“This high water level has lowered the quality of tobacco leaves because they cannot dry optimally during the curing process. Tobacco companies can push down tobacco prices down further. Without government intervention, many farmers will suffer losses,” said Apifuddin.
Based on APTI data, at least 3,000 tobacco farmers in East Lombok currently partner with 13 cigarette companies. More than 18,000 other farmers work independently.
“Ideally, dried tobacco leaves are priced at at least Rp 45,000 [US$3.42] per kilogram for the best quality, but now, grade-A dried tobacco can sell at only Rp 35,000 per kg while in fact, it’s difficult for farmers to get the best quality tobacco because of the weather,” said Apifuddin. (ebf)
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