MARDAN, May 29: The tobacco growers threatened here on Tuesday to launch a protest movement against the government if their demand about increase in the price of the yield was not met.
“More than 1.5 million people, linked to the tobacco crop, are feared to bear huge financial losses owing to the anti-farmers policies of the government and non-friendly behaviour of the officials of Tobacco Board,” they told a press conference.
Besides provincial leaders of the tobacco growers Rizwanullah and Abdus Samad Saafi, the farmers from Swabi, Charsadda and Mardan districts were present on the occasion.
They said that tobacco was a cash crop as about Rs70 billion, Rs250 million and Rs100 millions revenues had been earned annually by federal government, provincial government and Tobacco Board respectively through the crop.
They said that the officials of Tobacco Board had fixed the price of tobacco at Rs117 per kilogram without making any consultation with the
growers. They said that they held several meetings with the relevant officials to resolve the issue amicably but to no avail.
“The expenses of growing one kilogram tobacco are about Rs200 and it is sheer injustice with us to fix its price at Rs117 per kilogram,” they added. They said that the cruel policies of rulers and Tobacco Board had forced them to stop growing tobacco.
They demanded of the authorities to fix the price of tobacco at Rs200 per kilogram, include farmers in the Tobacco Board, give tobacco a status of agriculture crop and bring it under the control of provincial government as after the passage of 18th Amendment provincial government was responsible for devising agricultural policies.
They said that all cigarette factories should be set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
They threatened to launch an anti-government agitation besides boycotting the purchase process and besieging the Tobacco Board office if their demands were not met.