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SWABI, June 8: A survey conducted by a two-member team of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has found that Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) portrayed a wrong picture of cost of production and price of tobacco, which is harming poor growers of the country, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dawn learnt on Friday.

A letter No.F.I-2/2012-CMC titled “indicative maximum prices for the tobacco crop 2012”, available with this correspondent, has made it clear that the demand made by tobacco growers was genuine and both the companies and the PTB exploited the poverty-stricken farmers under a planned strategy and the board members failed to play their due role. The letter is signed by Dr Mohammad Aslam, crop commissioner minor crops, ministry of food security.

It says that reference Ministry of Commerce letter No.12(7)/06-Exp.I dated  May 17, 2012 they conducted the survey on the directive of national food security minister.

A two-member team nominated by the federal agriculture ministry and comprising National Agriculture Research Council, Islamabad, director general Dr Mohammad Sharif and deputy director Food Security Commission, Islamabad, Dr Waseemul Hassan recorded statements of about 1,000 growers in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Mansehra and other tobacco growing areas in May and in the light of that drafted a new report on cost of production.

The survey was conducted to look into complaints concerning recommendations of the PTB for fixing support price of tobacco and to assess the actual cost of tobacco production. The team was appointed after Kashthkar Coordination Council rejected the tobacco price finalised by the PTB members.

The survey is comprehensive and based on scientific techniques, the letter said and added that the committee indicated some very serious irregularities in fixation of minimum support price based on the cost of production of tobacco.

“The data clearly reveal the false picture portrayed by the cost of production committee of Pakistan Tobacco Board in sharp contrast to the data collected by the (two-member) committee constituted by the agriculture ministry on the directions of the Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research,” it said.

It said that the committee collected data directly from the tobacco growers following scientific methods. New price of tobacco has not been fixed and according to schedule the purchasing season is expected to start in early July.  The growers have been waiting for determination of the cost of tobacco production for the current year.

The letter says that it is also suggested that the cost of production of tobacco for the current year should be reviewed based on the committee report.

“The data collected by the committee revealed the false picture portrayed by cost of production committee of PTB,” says the letter.

When contacted, Kashthkar Coordination Council general secretary Liaquat Yusufzai said that they had put forward complete details of cost of production to secure rights of the growers.

He said that the new report showed that there were people who really wanted to protect the growers’ rights.