SWABI: The growers of white patta (WP) tobacco said here on Friday that due to major seasonal changes they were left with no option, but to switch over to cultivation of other crops such as maize and watermelons to earn their livelihood.

In a meeting of Kisan Board, a wing of farmers associated with Jamaat-i-Islam (JI), the growers said that climate change in the shape of frequent rains had created a complicated environment for the WP tobacco growers. They said that they had never witnessed the rainy weather which prevailed since Decembers last year.

The crop harvest is expected to begin in next four days, but the growers feel hesitation to start the process. WP tobacco is mainly used in naswar across the country and the multinational companies and small cigarette manufacturers have greatly reduced its use because the smokers no longer liked nicotine-ladden cigarette.

The farmers said that WP needed a week of clear skies after harvest to dry. However, in the current year clear weather remained a dream for the growers. They said that the harvested crop lost its 70 per cent value if it was hit by rain, resulting in financial loss to the growers.

Khalid Khan, KB’s district president, said that the people would like to switch over to cultivation of melon, watermelon, cucumber, vegetable and maize due to the environmental changes.

Mohammad Uzair, a farmer, said that their family had decided to switch over to growing melon to earn higher profits compared to tobacco crop.

IFTAR PARTY: The local administration arranged an Iftar party for leading political and religious figures of the district here on Thursday.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, retired Major Mohammad Aamir, Maulana Mohammad Tayyab, MPAs Rangaiz Khan and Aqibulllah Khan and district nazim Zahid Khan were prominent among those who attended the Iftar dinner.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019