Farmers angry at WHO treatment

    Leaf tobacco farmers around the world have called on their governments to help safeguard their livelihoods.

    Crucially, they want governments to ensure that there is proper consultation on and active participation in the development of policies directly affecting them – specifically, the November Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). They want recognition of the significant economic contribution tobacco-growing brings to their national economies.

    And they want solid impact assessments to be carried out whenever the FCTC proposes measures.

    The farmers, through the International Tobacco Growers, Association (ITGA), made their plea on Friday, the Fourth World Tobacco Growers’ Day (WTGD), an initiative launched by the ITGA in 2012 to help raise awareness of the concerns of tobacco-growing communities worldwide.    Speaking on behalf of its membership, ITGA President Daniel Green said tobacco-growers provided a legal crop for a legal market – something governments had to recognize.

    “This is not only an important, but in most cases, the main cash crop for many agriculture-based economies, and it helps to enhance the livelihoods of millions of farmers, rural workers and their families across the globe,” he said.

    “On the occasion of WTGD, growers call on their governments to assure a sustainable future for them and their families in the face of the many uncertainties facing the tobacco market as a result of steep declines in demand and the absence of viable alternatives for farmers, to ensure the subsistence of tobacco-growing communities.” At present, a number of proposed strict regulatory measures pose huge concerns for the tobacco-production sector and the summit where most of these measures are discussed, the CoP, will hold its seventh meeting in Delhi, India, on  November 7-12.

    Growers and their associations say they recognize the need to try to curb tobacco consumption but, for more than a decade since the FCTC’s inception, despite repeated requests to participate in CoP meetings, they have not been afforded one opportunity to present the realities of their sector.

    ‘Meanwhile, the Convention continues to grossly underestimate the consequences of the measures it proposes, refusing to acknowledge that most will irreparably damage the livelihoods of millions of tobacco-growers and their families – often in the world’s poorest countries – while failing to curb consumption,’ the ITGA said in a press note. ‘Previously, the FCTC has excluded tobacco growers from not only participating in past meetings but from observing the proceedings from public galleries and have not been afforded one single opportunity to present the realities of their sector.’