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SWABI, July 20: National and multinational companies have refused to begin buying tobacco until the commerce ministry and Pakistan Tobacco Board notify the start of the activity.

On July 13, PTB issued an order asking companies to stop buying tobacco and wait until further orders.

National and international companies have complained about the manhandling of their representatives by Kashthkar Coordination Council leaders in some parts of the district.

A senior member of one company’s staff told Dawn that he didn’t know when the purchase of tobacco would begin but could say with certainty that the activity would get underway only after being given a green light by the company bosses.He said commerce minister Abbas Khan Afridi recently told representatives of growers in plain words that tobacco price would remain Rs121 per kg for the current season.

Meanwhile, leaders of Kashthkar Coordination Council, a conglomerate of six tobacco growers’ bodies, said their six months struggle for getting tobacco price increased from Rs121 per kg to Rs183 per kg had failed to bear fruit.

They, however, said they would continue with their struggle.

“We laud the growers’ support. Those who are financially weak can take their crop to purchasing centres but those who are financially strong should wait for the Peshawar High Court verdict on our petition for better tobacco price,” said Liaquat Yusufzai, a KCC office-bearer.

MPA Sardar Ali told tobacco growers in a meeting that he would continue standing by them until they were offered the sought-after price for their produce.