ISLAMABAD:Minister for Commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan has said that tobacco is one of the major exports of Pakistan and all necessary steps will be taken to modernize tobacco farming in Pakistan. He was talking to a delegation of tobacco growers from district Bunner, NWFP. He said tobacco farming is the backbone of our exports and work on setting up a state-of-the-art tobacco research center has been sped up, adding that modern tobacco kilns will be built soon in the region.
Sher Akbar Khan, who was heading the delegation, briefed the minister about problems faced by the tobacco growers of his district. He said almost 50 percent of the cultivable land is utilized for tobacco farming and annually eight million kilograms of Virginia tobacco, worth 9200 million rupees is cultivated in Bunner. He said that tobacco farming was initiated in 1963 in the region to provide an economic substitute for opium growers. He said that lack of research setup, modern techniques, and unavailability of natural gas supply has marred the well being of tobacco farmers. Akbar said that there are at least 4760 tobacco kilns in district Bunner that operate according to outdated mechanism. The Minister ensured the delegation of his ministry’s full cooperation and facilitation by the Commerce Ministry to overcome hurdles faced by tobacco growers of NWFP. -SANA