The government of Sri Lanka should incentivize tobacco farmers to abandon the golden leaf if favor of alternative crops, according to a new publication from the Institute of Policy Studies or Sri Lanka.
The study, reported The Sunday Observer, notes that tobacco farmers can earn better profits from cultivating other crops such as chili, brinjal, carrot, bitter gourd, cabbage and big onion.
In 2017, the government declared it would ban tobacco farming in Sri Lanka by the end of 2020. While its deadline has lapsed, leaf cultivation has declined significantly in recent years. In 2020, 1,142 hectares, or 0.04 percent of Sri Lanka’s agricultural land, was dedicated to tobacco, according to the most recent statistics. Production totaled 9,224 metric tons that year.
Among other recommendations, the study authors suggest building farmer resilience and strengthening the policy frameworks for alternative crops.
These supply-side measures, they argue, could be complemented with demand-side measures to disincentivize the manufacturers from engaging in tobacco production and prevent nontobacco farmers from joining the industry.
The also called for higher tobacco taxes and more awareness of the adverse health effects of tobacco consumption.