Kenya’s Ministry of Health along with the World Health Organization and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched an initiative to end tobacco farming in the country, reports Xinhuanet.
The initiative is called the Tobacco-Free Farms project, and it will support farmers’ shift to alternative crops, such as legumes, that are less harmful to human health and the environment. It was launched in Migori, which is located in western Kenya.
The goal is a gradual phasing out of tobacco farming at the smallholder level, replacing tobacco with crops that will boost food security and help achieve health-related sustainable development goals.
According to Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health, tobacco has worsened the burden of respiratory diseases in the country, harmed vital ecosystems like watersheds, escalated gender inequality, rural poverty, deforestation and soil degradation.
Ministry of Health data shows that more than 6,000 Kenyans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, and 2.7 million adults and 220,000 children use tobacco products daily.