SWABI: The companies have reduced their total tobacco purchasing quota for the current year by 2.905 million kilogrammes compared to the previous year, sources in the firms say.

They told Dawn on Monday that the total purchasing demand for the current year (2022) was 53.575 million kg compared to 56.48 million kg in 2021.

Of the total, the demand for Virginia tobacco is 51.757 million kg, dark air-cured Gujrat one million kg, Okara 100,000 kg, White Patta 368,000 kg, Burley 50,000 kg and sun-cured 300,000 kg, the sources said.

The sources said the demand for Virginia tobacco, which is also known as flue-cured Virginia, had been reduced by 6.8 per cent and White Patta 29.2 per cent.

About eight million kilogrammes of cured tobacco is still lying with the growers as the companies failed to lift the announced quota for 2021, according to growers and their leaders.

The sources in the companies said the growers had been advised to grow tobacco according to the quotas.

The PTB has also advised the growers to abide by the purchasing agreements to avoid any surplus produce.

However, when contacted, the growers and their leaders told Dawn that neither the companies nor the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government protected the farmers’ interests.

They pointed out that according to tobacco marketing law the purchasing quota should be announced in November, but it was announced in February.

Liaqat Yousafzai, central president of Tobacco Growers Association Pakistan, said the government was responsible for financial bankruptcy of growers.

Khalid Khan, district president of Kisan Board, said: “National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had made pledges with the growers that their demand regarding lifting of all the cured tobacco would be taken up with the companies, but to no avail.”

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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