Farmer's Voice

Tobacco Growing will not be OVER

Sept 3 EL TIEMPO - Colombia - Declaraciones Min Agricultura.jpgThe Government Reacts to Declarations by Fedetabaco.

Juan Carlos Dominguez

Economics and Business Newsroom

The Minister of Agriculture, Juan Camilo Restrepo, stated that the government has not considered any alternative crops for areas of the country planted with tobacco.

The official thus responded to Heliodoro Campos, Manager of the National Federation of Tobacco Growers (Fedetabaco), who warned that approval of articles 17 and 18 of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control "would force governments to do away with the crop."

The first of the two articles call for supports for economically viable alternative activities, while article 18 deals with health and the environment.

Neither of the two requires 'doing away with crops,' as was announced by the leader of the industry association.

Campos told EL TIEMPO that "at any moment, the WHO will ask countries to eliminate incentives for the crop, using tools such as not providing technical assistance, cancelling lines of credit, and ending support for tobacco industry organizations and research."

When consulted on the topic, the Minister of Agriculture emphasized that tobacco is one of the most heavily supported crops, and no one has proposed the government a possible replacement.

"On the contrary, in many areas tobacco is replacing illicit crops.

"We see with interest that new areas are being planted with tobacco and it is the main crop in areas such as Montes de María and El Carmen de Bolívar.  In addition, it is a great crop for creating jobs (250 man-days per hectare).  For that reason, we will continue to support it," concluded Restrepo.

It is worth highlighting that this crop is a "model" for community loans and the leader in weather risk insurance.

With respect to community loans, during the first semester of this year more than 6.6 billion pesos were disbursed to tobacco growers, according to a report by the Fund for Agricultural Sector Financing (Finagro).

Relative to crop insurance, a report published by the insurance industry association Fasecolda says, "The number of policies has gradually gone up in Colombia, mainly in tobacco growing."

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*Calculations by Fedetabaco. Figures in hectares.
  Area planted in Colombia

The analysis calculates that tobacco growers will take out more than 62 percent of the policies issued for all crops.  In addition, by law, their premiums are subsidized.

The manager of Fedetabaco believes that the sustainability is threatened of the areas planted, due to high production costs from high prices of inputs (such as insecticides and fertilizers) and the excessive labor demanded per hectare.

Lastly, he highlighted that 70 percent of the growers do not own the land they cultivate.

15 THOUSAND FAMILIES GAIN THEIR LIVELIHOOD FROM TOBACCO

Tobacco is grown in 12 Departments and more than 100 municipalities. In addition, it generates more than 3 million rural man-days of work per year, some 250 per hectare.

 

es.jpg Spanish version of the document - No se acabará el cultivo del tabaco