SWABI: Leaders of growers warned on Saturday to again block the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway if the district administration did not make the companies to purchase the surplus tobacco from farmers.

Speaking at a press conference here, Arif Khan, president of Ittehad Kashtkaran, said the administration during talks with the growers’ leaders a few days ago had promised to make the companies start buying the surplus tobacco from growers as per a survey conducted by the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB.

Liaqat Yousafzai, central president of Tobacco Growers Association Pakistan, and other leaders were also present on the occasion.

He said the district administration had also agreed that the police won’t register any FIR against the growers and their leaders. He said following the agreement, the protesting farmers had ended the blockade of the motorway.

However, Mr Arif regretted that the administration had failed to implement the agreement as the firms, including the Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC), had yet to start purchasing tobacco, and an FIR had also been registered against over 100 growers and their leaders in Chota Lahor police station. The police were also raiding residences of growers’ leaders for their arrest, he deplored.

Speaking at the presser, Liaqat Yousafzai said the administration had agreed that the five million kilogrammes tobacco, which was declared surplus by the PTB, would be purchased by the multinational and national companies.

However, he said so far no company, including the PTC, had started purchasing the tobacco. He said PTC was the main buyer of tobacco.

The growers’ leaders also demanded withdrawal of the FIR.

They said the farmers were not in a position to keep the crop for long time as they were facing financial difficulties.

When contacted, officials in the companies told Dawn that they would begin buying tobacco from farmers once they were given a green signal from the high officials.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2021

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