Farmer's Voice

ITGA rejects proposals on tobacco farming (Daily News)

They say the consultative process of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) excludes them and goes beyond its own mandate.

Tobacco farmer and recently re-elected International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA).

Africa Region Chairman Francois van der Merwe said that the FCTC's original mandate was o explore, research and promote alternative crops 'if and when the demand for tobacco globally declines substantially'.

According to the FCTC's own working group, however, 'The future consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products is predicted to increase from 1.1 billion smokers in 2010 to about 1.6 billion smokers by the year2025.'

Tobacco farmers in the region expressed support for van der Merwe's position when they convened inLusakafor their regional meeting.

Zambian tobacco farmer Bright Shamilimo said that although he grew staple food crops, such as maize, tobacco was his cash crop. 'It would not be right if the government told me to stop growing tobacco because I don' think there is another crop that will give the returns like that of tobacco.'

Joseph Wanguhu who represents the Kenya Tobacco Farmers Association (KTFA) and is CEO of its technical division was sceptical about the viability of alternative crops.

'The areas where tobacco grows inKenyasignificantly have good earnings from tobacco. Alternative crops have been tried in the regions without success Most of them don't have markets but tobacco has an organised market and better prices.'

Wanguhu said the FCTC needed to engage with the farmers. 'Outside bodies or governments should not dictate to the farmers have already tried it, done profitability analyses and have seen that tobacco is more profitable than any other crop tried in their areas.

The FCTC's recommendations suggest 'limiting the area of land under tobacco could be an important aspect of tobacco control' that governments should 'not provide any incentives for increasing the acreage of land for cultivating tobacco' and should go so far as to 'freeze the total acreage under tobacco by delimiting specific tobacco growing areas… and thereafter taking suitable measures to reduce these areas'.

in Daily News - Tanzania, June 14th, 2012 (Page 17)