SWABI, Nov 28: The national and multinational companies’ demand for flue-cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco has increased, while the demand for White Patta (WP) tobacco has gone down for 2014.

Every year, these companies announce their tobacco demand for the next year through Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) in November.

Swabi, Mardan, Buner, Mansehra and Charsadda of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are famous for cultivation and production of tobacco but around half of the best quality tobacco cultivates in Swabi.

Swabi is known as a house of tobacco due to bumper crop of tobacco. It also has a number of small cigarette manufacturing units.

PTB had advised local tobacco growers to avoid the growing surplus tobacco calling on them to cultivate crop sought by national and multinational companies.

During the current year, non-recommended varieties of tobacco turned out to be a major issue between farmers and buyers.

Later, the companies purchased those varieties but warned growers that they would not buy them next year.

During the current year, the total demand for all varieties of tobacco was 66.195 million kg but for the upcoming year, it has gone up to 78.36 million kg.

The total demand of FCV Tobacco for 2014 is 74.135 million kg though it stood at 62.45 million kg during the current year.

The bulk of FCV is purchased by Pakistan Tobacco (PTC) and Philip Morris International Pakistan and the sister companies of the two companies every year.

The demand for WP Tobacco has gone down during the last few years.

According to growers, smokers have been addicted to smoke nicotine-laden cigarette.

WP, they say, contains more nicotine compared to FCV.

The WP demand in the current year was 2.29 million kg and it has been reduced to 1.665 million kg for the next year.

The WP has widely been used in snuff (naswar) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, adjoining tribal regions and war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“About 80 percent of White Patta tobacco has been used in snuff,” said Obaid Khan, a local dealer of WP.

The requirement of barley tobacco has gone down from 0.1 million kg to 0.09 million kg, said the sources.

However, the need of dark air-cured tobacco has been increased from 1.635 million kg to 2.43 million kg.

Liaquat Yousufzai, general secretary of Kashtkar Coordination Council, said usually, it happened that the companies announced much less from their actual demand.

“The track record shows both companies and small cigarette manufactures have pushed real requirements under the carpet,” he said.

He said another strategy used by main buyers is to purchase tobacco through different channels instead of directly from growers.

Mr Yousufzai said tobacco dealers were in league with the companies to purchase tobacco from the farmer at low prices.

“We termed it the exploitative tactics of both companies and dealers,” he said.

The Anjuman-i-Kashthkaran, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said the great dilemma was that the government had not yet given tobacco the status of the crop to and it was the only a cash crop in which people here earned their livelihood with dignity and honour.

They demanded that PTB should play its due role on the matter.

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