Disease attacks tobacco crop in Swabi

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The tobacco crop in Swabi affected by drowning disease. — Dawn
The tobacco crop in Swabi affected by drowning disease. — Dawn

SWABI: The growers have complained that drowning disease has attacked White Patta (WP) tobacco, which is widely used in snuff making.

Talking to Dawn here, they said the disease was caused by frequent rain spells over the past months.

Jabeen Qamar, an agriculture expert, said: “The disease is very common in the low-lying regions. When the rainwater accumulates in fields then the drowning disease attacks the crop and destroys it completely.”

He said that the growers had been advised to ensure that water did not stand in fields during the crop irrigation.

The disease first attacks the tobacco roots and then slowly dries the leaves, thus inflicting heavy losses on the farmers, said Mr Qamar.

Meanwhile, the multinational and national companies have slashed their WP purchasing quota for this year.

Officials said that the firms’ total demand of WP during the current year was over 390.000 kilogrammes, adding that the Pakistan Tobacco Company and a multinational company would not buy WP this year.

They said that out of 50 companies, only 15 would buy WP during the current year.

The WP is mainly used in snuff making which is widely used in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics.

It is also used in making tobacco used in hookahs and cigarettes.

The bleak prospect of the crop has forced a number of growers to give up WP cultivation and start growing vegetables.

‘’Now, we are focused on growing vegetables instead of the tobacco variety,’’ Mohammad Uzair of Maneri Bala area said.

Khalid Khan of Gohati village said that the companies were no longer using WP in manufacturing cigarettes. He said that due to decease in the tobacco’s demand they had also limited its cultivation.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2020