Govt vs growers: Tobacco farmers threaten boycott if price not raised by Rs50

K-P Kisan Board members say they can’t even break even

Our Correspondent August 05, 2014

MARDAN: The Kisan Board of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has rejected the existing price of Rs150 per kilogramme for tobacco, threatening to stop growing the crop if they are not given Rs200.

K-P produces the bulk of the country’s crop. It produced 83 million kilogrammes in 2012-13 of which 80% was produced in Swabi district alone and that too of export quality.

When the Kisan Board met in Shergarh on Sunday, officials and farmers said that boycotting the crop would affect the revenue of the province.

Tobacco brings in heavy taxes. In the previous fiscal year, for example, total taxes on tobacco were imposed at 81% for high-end brands and 71% for low-end brands. The legitimate industry paid Rs76.5 billion in taxes during fiscal year 2013.

The Kisan Board’s provincial president, Rizwanullah, said the existing price of Rs150 per kg was not enough, adding it does not even allow them to break even. They described the decision to set lower prices as a “conspiracy” by multinational companies against growing tobacco in the region. Rizwanullah said they would not sell the commodity at the current rate.

Those who attended the meeting demanded tobacco companies and the Pakistan Tobacco Board increase the price, saying that they would otherwise boycott cultivation in 2015.

The revenues received from the tobacco sector increased Rs10 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th,2014.