Thursday June 30, 2022

Farmers destroy nurseries in drive against tobacco cultivation

By Our Correspondent
January 04, 2022

SWABI: A large number of growers have destroyed tobacco nurseries during the last 15 days while most have already cultivated other crops on lands as the farmers’ leaders continued the campaign against the growth of so-called cash crop in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Our drive against the tobacco growing is in full swing and going successful so far as the growers are voluntarily destroying their nurseries while others have already cultivated wheat, sugarcane, potato, garlic and other crops on their lands in the tobacco-growing areas of the province,” Arif Ali Khan and Liaqat Khan Yousafzai, the leaders of Ittehad-e-Kashtkaran, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said on Monday.

They vowed to make the campaign against the tobacco growing successful to put a halt to the alleged exploitation of the poor growers by the government departments and the tobacco companies.

It may be mentioned that tobacco growers have launched a campaign against the cultivation of tobacco due to the alleged excessive and exploitation of national and international companies and levying heavy taxes on the commodity by the government.

Ittehad-e-Kashtkaran, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, leaders Arif Khan, Liaqat Khan Yousafzai, Muhammad Ali Dagiwal, Syed Inayat Ali Shah Bacha, Abid Ali, Asfandyar, Shahab Khan and others are leading the movement.

The leaders are holding meetings with farmers in almost all the villages and towns of the tobacco-producing districts to convince them not to cultivate the crop for at least one year.Last year, the companies did not purchase the entire produce from the growers and a handsome quantity of tobacco is still lying in their godowns, which inflicted huge losses on the farmers.

The farmers’ representatives have also presented a 10-point charter of demands to the government and companies to resolve their genuine problems.According to the charter, the farmers have asked the government to give tobacco the status of a crop through legislation, fix price in proportion to the existing hiked prices of pesticides, fertilizers, seeds and allied expenses, give 10 per cent share in the Federal Excise Duty (FED) and spend it on the welfare of tobacco growers and development of tobacco growing areas, activate purchasing centres at the tobacco growing areas and devise a policy to stop shifting of the tobacco-related industry to Azad Kashmir and other provinces from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

They demanded the government to register the tobacco furnaces/bhattis and investigate the tobacco market crises in 2021, withdraw cases against the framers’ leaders, purchase the entire remaining tobacco stock lying in godowns with the growers, spend corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds on the growers and uplift of tobacco growing areas.

The farmers complained that multinational companies give numerous facilities and perks, including high salaries, health and residential accommodation for staff and their families but were reluctant to facilitate and reward the diligent farmers.

It may be mentioned that tobacco is cultivated in Pakistan and 80 per cent of the total production is produced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, tobacco products contribute Rs135 billion to the federal exchequer while Rs980 million go to the provincial kitty in the shape of tobacco development cess.

Arif Khan and Liaqat Yousafzai said that they were holding a grand meeting of tobacco farmers at Swabi Ground to devise a future line of action soon.They said that the farmers would give a deadline to the government and tobacco companies for fulfilling their 10 demands at the meeting.