ISLAMABAD: The tobacco growers of Swabi district have asked for government’s assistance after a heavy hailstorm wreaked havoc on valuable crops last week.
The tobacco farmers urged Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and the office holders of Pakistan Tobacco Board to send a team of experts to visit the hailstorm-hit regions and determine the financial losses incurred by the growers and take measures to quickly revive the value-chain.
“Every sector and industry is being provided relief but the growers and those working in the agricultural sector like us are being left out,” said Kashtkar Coordination Council in a statement. “The government must provide relief in taxes, ensure earlier payments from the tobacco sector and extend low-cost, easy loans for growers and farmers.”
The council said it was critical to complete the purchasing of tobacco-leaf within a specific time period so as to save the crop from becoming totally unusable. “Without the help from authorities, this workforce of millions of people, who earn their living from cultivation of tobacco, or from factories or trading of related products, will not be able restore their livelihood.”
Another long-standing demand of this industry was the strict enforcement of laws against illegal trading and smuggling of tobacco, the council highlighted. “These malpractices are damaging this vast industry, which is among the largest contributors to the national revenues.