Buying companies accused of exploiting poor tobacco farmers – Journal

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SWABI: Buying companies and small cigarette manufacturers never report their true tobacco quotas in a bid to buy surplus from growers at scrap rates, causing them financial losses every year, SWABI said on Saturday. Dawn from corporate sources requesting anonymity.

They said the total expected production of all tobacco varieties in the current year is around 86 million kilograms (kg), while the total requirements of national and multinational companies are 53.575 million kg. . They said the total quota in 2021 was 56.48 million kg.

They said more than 32 million kg of tobacco was going to be surplus to growers this year, who would be forced to sell it to companies at a price well below the price set by the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB).

The sources said the companies and the PTB were encouraging farmers to grow White Patta and Virginia tobacco in Mianwali district of Punjab to keep KP growers under pressure. They said the quality produced in Mianwali was not so good.

Sources said the PTB had announced the minimum indicative price for 2022 at Rs245 per kg from Rs214 last year. The price increase is intended to induce farmers to produce more.

They added last year that around 11-14 million kg of tobacco had become surplus, which was purchased at around Rs 120-130 per kg, inflicting great financial loss on farmers.

When contacted, grower leaders said the companies had never announced their exact quotas and were still waiting for the crop to become surplus so they could buy it from poor growers at a pittance. For this reason, they said a number of farmers have stopped growing tobacco.

Liaqat Yousafzai, central chairman of the Tobacco Growers Association, said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure companies buy all the tobacco that belongs to growers.

He said the federal government took in 114 billion rupees from the central excise duty and tobacco sales tax last year, and the provincial government took 1.5 billion rupees from the tobacco development tax, but despite this they took no steps to improve the growers, leaving them to the mercy of the buyers.

Harvest buying is expected to begin this month.

Posted in Dawn, June 5, 2022

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