Growers up in arms

Pakistani tobacco growers in Yar Hussain on Sunday protested about the proposed shifting of their leaf-purchase center, according to a story in The News.
They condemned also what they said was the non-payment by buying companies for last year’s leaf tobacco, which was causing hardships among growers and rendering some unable to finance production.
And they vowed to launch a campaign to protest the ‘economic murder’ of farmers in the Swabi district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Yar Hussain.
Growers attending a protest meeting were told that a plan existed under which the leaf-purchase center would be shifted and the buying put out to brokers and agents.
They were told of how other purchase centers had been closed in the past and how buying had been handed over to agents.
The growers believe the plan by tobacco manufacturers to buy tobacco indirectly was tantamount to exploiting the growers by shifting profits to middlemen, depriving poor farmers of their just earnings.
They vowed that the interests of the growers would be protected and that the exploitative tactics of the companies would be resisted at all costs.
Speakers at the meeting condemned also the role of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB), saying it had become a silent spectator to the exploitation of growers in the district.
They asked the government to take note of the situation, and threatened that, if it didn’t, they would launch a protest movement for their rights.
Other speakers said that militancy and terrorism had already hit the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hard, and that rendering thousands of people jobless would contribute to the menace in the region.