• April 18, 2024

Diversification in Africa: FCTC No Help

 Diversification in Africa: FCTC No Help
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

While participants in the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are keen for tobacco growers to abandon the golden leaf, farmers around the world say they receive little support in switching to alternative livelihoods.

Interviewed by the International Tobacco Growers’ Association, Ryan Swales, president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), said he has not witnessed any attempts from the global health body to assist with diversification.

“I do not see any help from the WHO FCTC helping the diversification of tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe,” he was quoted as saying. “We are on our own, and a big proportion of large-scale growers have diversified on their own, with no help from anyone else, be it the tobacco companies or the WHO FCTC. If you ask many growers if they know who the WHO FCTC are, you will be met with a blank stare!”

This sentiment was echoed by ZTA CEO Rodney Ambrose, who noted that for Zimbabwe’s tens of thousands of small-scale farmers, there simply are no viable diversification options. “Our ministry engaged in a study on behalf of WHO FCTC some years back, which clearly concluded that there are no economically viable crops other than tobacco for our small-scale farmers. Tobacco is their livelihood.

“However, we are always willing to further explore diversification options that the WHO FCTC may propose.”

In Malawi, tobacco growers have received support from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World as the country seeks to broaden its economic base.