• May 26, 2024

Tobacco Board under fire

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Photo by ocDeluxe

The decision by the Tobacco Board of India to increase the size of the authorized flue-cured tobacco crop for the state of Karnataka has angered tobacco growers and anti-tobacco activists – though for different reasons.

The Hindu Online reported that the board had decided to increase the crop size by slightly more than four percent from 95 million kg for the 2016-17 season to 99 million kg for the 2017-2018 season.

Anti-tobacco activists are angry that the board has increased the crop size in a move that they say is in contravention of India’s commitment to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, under which it should be reducing tobacco cultivation.

Growers are angry that the size of the increase is too restrictive at a time when international demand is high and prices attractive.

The Indian Tobacco Association, representing tobacco manufacturers and exporters had called for a crop target of 105 million kg in 2017-18.

“The board should have fixed the crop size in accordance with the demand, which has come particularly from the exporters,” Javare Gowda, the president of the Karnataka FCV Tobacco Growers’ Federation, was quoted as saying.

“If the crop is restricted, farmers will be forced to pay a penalty for growing more than the authorized size.

“Last year, the farmers paid a whopping Rs24 crore [Rs240 million] in penalties.”

Gowda added that India would miss out on foreign exchange earnings if exporters looked to China, Brazil and Zimbabwe to meet their requirements.

But the increase in crop size came under fire from Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, who is convener of the Anti-Tobacco Forum of Mysuru and the honorary advisor to the Cancer Patients Aid Association.

“The increase is detrimental to people,” he said.

“It proves that the government is not serious about tobacco control. It is adopting a dual approach.”