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SWABI: Tobacco growers in a meeting here on Thursday demanded opening of purchasing centres by companies in the tobacco cultivating districts, including Swabi.

Leaders of Kisan Board and Kashthkar Coordination Council (KCC) said that major companies had closed down their purchasing centres in the tobacco cultivating districts, including Swabi, Buner, Mardan and Charsadda.

They said that the growers would face problems in transportation of tobacco to distant centres. They said that earlier it was easy for the growers to transport their produce to the nearby buying points.

They said that one of the major companies had planned to run its main buying point at the company site in Ismalia, Swabi, for buying the crop from the farmers of other localities. Earlier, there were several purchasing centres in Swabi areas of Chota Lahor, Yar Hussain, Saleem Khan and Charbagh.

District president of Kisan Board Khalid Khan said that bringing tobacco from Mardan and other districts to Ismalia would be difficult for the growers because of the high transportation costs.

KCC general secretary Liaquat Yousafzai said that the few points established at a company in Ismalia would not resolve the problem of growers.

Meanwhile, officials of both the national and multinational companies said on Thursday that purchase of tobacco was scheduled to start on July 12. They claimed that the announcement in this regard had been made by the Pakistan Tobacco Board. Officials in the companies said that they had already signed agreements with the growers for purchase of their produce.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2018