SWABI: Tobacco growers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday demanded of the federal ministry of commerce to constitute a team for assessing their losses.

They also set on fire bundles of tobacco in protest against what they called violation of their rights by the purchasing companies.

A meeting of tobacco growers was held at Yar Hussain outside the Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC). Leaders of various unions from Charsadda, Peshawar, Mardan and Malakand division participated in the meeting, which was held on the call of Kashthkar Coordination Council (KCC).

The participants said that after the Eighteenth Amendment the control of tobacco should be given to the provincial government and it should no longer remain the subject of the federal government.

Authorities asked to fine companies for ‘violation’ of marketing law

They demanded that the government should give the status of crop to tobacco as it had been given to cotton in Punjab.

They alleged that in the current year the tobacco marketing law had been violated by the purchasing companies.

They said that the federal ministry of commerce should constitute a team to assess the losses caused to the growers.

“We want the government to fine the companies for violation of tobacco marketing law and the money thus collected paid to the poor growers,” said Samad Safi, provincial general secretary of Kisan Board.

Naghmat Shah, provincial vice-president of Anjuman-i-Kashtkaran, said that the maximum price was finalised as Rs178 per kilogramme, but the companies bought tobacco from the growers at Rs150/160 per kg.

They said that the federal government had received Rs135 billion through different taxes on the crop in 2016 and in the current year the amount was expected to increase.

“We unanimously demand that 10 per cent of the Rs135 billion should be given to the provincial government which should be spent on the welfare of the growers in the tobacco cultivating districts,” said Liaquat Yousafzai, general secretary of Tobacco Growers Association of Pakistan.

They said that genuine growers should be included in the process of determining the cost of production.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2017