SWABI: Tobacco growers on Friday warned of launching another protest movement if all the cured Virginia tobacco was not purchased by the national and multinational companies till Monday.

Speaking to mediapersons here on Friday, Arif Ali Khan, chairman of Ittehad Kashtkaran, and general secretary Liaqat Yousafzai recalled that earlier they had arranged a peaceful protest to demand lifting of tobacco produce. They said the protest had forced the district administration to strike an agreement between the growers and the companies with the firms agreeing to buy all the surplus tobacco.

They demanded that the companies purchased the remaining tobacco immediately as they had to go for preparing nurseries for the crop in February and March.

According to a survey conducted by the companies, there are still about 1.2 million kilogrammes of tobacco lying with the farmers, they said, adding there were about 800,000 kilogrammes lying in Yar Hussain, 250,000kg in Chota Lahor and 150,000kg in other areas.

The growers’ leaders warned of staging a protest in front of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) offices in Peshawar if their demand was not met. They said the growers planned to hold a protest meeting in Sard Cheena on Monday to draw a new line of action.

Mr Arif Khan said the expenditures of the entire year of farmers depended on tobacco yield because it was the main cash crop.

Mr Yousafzai said the companies should give up delaying tactics in purchasing their produce. They pointed out that the PTB had given 5 million kilogrammes quota to be purchased by the companies but some of them had failed to purchase their share.

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2021

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