SWABI: The demand for tobacco has been set at a record 85.8 million kilograms for the next year, significantly higher than the current year’s 53.575m kg, leaf managers and growers told Dawn on Wednesday.
The high requirements, announced by the buyers through the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB), have sent officials of multinational and national tobacco companies scurrying around the fields to secure agreements with farmers, sometimes on the spot.
Tobacco demand from buyers was 45.6m kg in 2019 and 56.48m kg in 2021. Growers and company officials agreed that the next year’s demand of 85.8m kg was a record high.
The requirement for flue-cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco — used in cigarettes — is the highest at 82.7m kg, including 71.7m kg in the plain areas, 10m kg in sub-mountain regions and 1m kg in Punjab.
The demand for dark air-cured (DAC) tobacco, which is produced in Gujrat and Okara, is 1.7m kg. The requirement for sun-cured rustica tobacco (or white patta) is 565,000 kg and for light air-cured tobacco (burley) is 360,000 kg.
Of the total FCV demand, 37.5m kg is planned to be exported to different countries, leaving 48.3m kg to be purchased and utilised in cigarette making by multinational, national and small cigarette manufacturers in Pakistan.
A PTB official told Dawn that different companies, dealers and agents exported some 22.4m kg of tobacco during 2021-22 for over $77.3m and now expected more foreign exchange in the future.
A leaf manager, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that a few European countries considered Pakistan a cheap market for purchasing the crop and they had already nominated their agents who would purchase tobacco for them.
“A tough competition to acquire tobacco is expected and officials of companies have already started approaching farmers, even visiting them in their fields and issuing agreements on the spot,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2022