Farmer's Voice

Declaration Agreed by Participants at the Africa Tobacco Forum - Lusaka, Zambia

AGREED BY PARTICIPANTS
AFRICA TOBACCO FORUM DECLARATION
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, 30 MAY 2012

We, the Participants of the International Tobacco Growers Association Africa Regional Meeting:

  • Represent millions of farmers and tobacco workers and countless tobacco farming communities in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
  • Recognize that tobacco has been farmed in Africa for generations
  • Acknowledge the vital contribution of tobacco farming to rural employment and economic development
  • Reaffirm the right of farmers to choose to grow tobacco for a living
  • Recognize that tobacco provides a secure and stable income for hundreds of thousands of African farmers
  • Acknowledge that there are no viable crop alternatives to tobacco at this time with the scale and economic role of tobacco
  • Determine to protect the land, the jobs, and the communities sustained by tobacco farming
  • Declare, with one united voice for the common interest of African tobacco
  • farmers, that we:
    1. OPPOSE draft policy recommendations being pushed by certain special interest groups within the context of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that aim to cap tobacco farming production, restrict the available land for tobacco farming, deny farmers their political and commercial rights to engage with their governments through Tobacco Boards or Commissions, ban leaf auctions and in doing so directly threaten the jobs and livelihoods of tens of millions of farm families
      worldwide;
    2. REMIND governments, including the government of the hosting country, that the original FCTC Treaty did not advocate that countries cap, restrict, and ultimately eradicate tobacco farming; that this Treaty actually recognizes the importance of government assistance to tobacco farmers that are affected by a drop in demand for tobacco leaf as a result of smoking reduction strategies and changing consumer preferences;
    3. EXPRESS DEEP CONCERN that, while some Working Group members push for a cap on tobacco farming production and restriction on the amount of land available to tobacco farming, the FCTC as a whole has failed to date to provide any specific, detailed, and credible options for governments seeking to help tobacco farmers diversify to other viable crops or livelihoods in anticipation of a potential reduction in demand for tobacco leaf;
    4. NOTE WITH GREAT CONCERN that the Working Group responsible for these proposals (known as the Working Group for Articles 17&18) is being driven by health officers with little to no real world knowledge of agriculture, tobacco farming, or the challenges faced by farmers and farm workers living in rural areas;
    5. REMIND the Working Group that the FCTC has acknowledged that the tobacco farming community should be involved at every stage of policy development and implementation. Yet it has failed at any time to meaningfully consult farmers or the associations that represent them and their interests on specific, detailed, and credible options to other viable crops, ignoring the reiterated offers of co-operation by Growers Organisations from all over the world;
    6. URGE governments to defend the interests of tobacco farmers that provide employment and income for hundreds of thousands of African farmers and their families by rejecting the draft policy recommendations for Articles 17&18 and urging other governments to reject the draft recommendations, as long as they just aim to destroy the tobacco farmers' livelihoods; 
    7. URGE governments to request the Working Group for Articles 17&18 to revise its draft policy recommendations, to seek input from tobacco farmers' organizations and agricultural policy specialists on specific, detailed, and credible options for diversification with alternative crops; 
    8. REFUSE to accept the FCTC systematic discrimination of tobacco growers;
    9. CALL UPON all tobacco farmers, farm workers, and farming communities to actively and collectively defend their land, their jobs, and their livelihood from efforts to deny the right to produce the legal crops that better assure their economic prosperity;
    10. DECIDE to remain actively engaged in opposing these proposals.

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