Saturday September 18, 2021

NA speaker calls for providing tobacco farmers ‘competitive profitability’

July 21, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser called for close scrutiny of the existing policy framework for the tobacco farmers, urging all the stakeholders to eliminate hurdles to provide competitive profitability to them.

While presiding over a meeting of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on agricultural products on Monday at Parliament House, Asad Qaiser said, “The problems of cotton and tobacco growers would be tackled on priority in the next meetings of the special committee on agricultural products and an all-out effort would be made to ensure that the farmers to receive decent profit for their toil.” Reports said the tobacco farmers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had written letters to the Speaker of the National Assembly regarding their concerns, requesting him to end their sufferings.

The farmers complained that the tobacco companies, under a contract, sell agricultural and allied inputs at higher prices than the current market prices, thus denting their profitability. They stated that the Pakistan Tobacco Board, in collusion with the cigarette manufacturers, understated the cost of production of tobacco farmers, leading to suppression of the minimum indicative prices. They demanded an independent evaluation to ascertain the true cost of production, requesting to remove complex documentation introduced by the tobacco companies for paying vouchers.

Meanwhile, the tobacco manufacturers claimed that there was no malpractice in provision of high quality inputs to the farmers. On the issue of the vouchers, the companies said the new regulations had been undertaken in compliance with FATF and the company's international obligations. The committee principally endorsed the proposal to conduct a third party audit to ascertain the cost of production of tobacco.

The committee instructed the sub-committee to comprehensively examine the issues and present its report. Talking with the media persons, Speaker Asad Qaiser said the sub-committee would look into the issues for tobacco growers and it would do everything to give maximum relief to the farmer. He said the government presented a farmer-friendly budget and it would help the farmers to get reasonable rates for wheat.