Dastgir urges PTB to take steps for tobacco growers’ welfare

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Muhammad Arshad

Islamabad

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Thursday, urged Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) to adopt proactive approach and take all necessary steps for the welfare of tobacco farmers. It is the policy of the present government to help such farmers all over the country because Tobacco is an important cash crop and source of livelihood for thousands of underprivileged farmers and their families.
Speaking at MoUs signing ceremony between the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) and Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC) & Philip Morris Pakistan Limited (PMPKL) for Barn Modification to make tobacco curing process more efficient, Minister observed that Tobacco Cess Refund Rules were framed to support tobacco exporters.
As per MoU, The companies will also undertake an impact analysis during and after the curing season to see the results of the modifications. Preference will be given to small farmers and all tobacco growing district will be given share proportionate to their production.
Under the scheme more than 400 barns of tobacco farmers will be modified through introduction of latest innovations in the existing barns. The financial cost of the scheme that is Rs20 million would be borne by PTB from its own resources while the two private sector companies will provide technical assistance free of cost.
The modifications will make the tobacco curing process 20-25% more energy efficient, thereby reducing cost of production of tobacco on one hand and improve quality of the leaf on the other. This will also minimize the adverse impact on environment. Ikram Ghani, Chairman PTB and Asad Shah and Irshad Khan from PTC and PMPKL respectively signed the documents in the Ministry of Commerce.
Ikram Ghani, Chairman PTB informed the Minister that as per his directions PTB has entered into negotiation with NICL for barn insurance and very soon the scheme will be introduced. The Minister appreciated the initiative and directed that PTB should share cost of premium with farmers so that burden is reduced on them. The Minister for Commerce further said that Tobacco Cess Refund Rules are framed to support tobacco Exporters.