• May 23, 2024

Industry Supports Flood Victims in Brazil

 Industry Supports Flood Victims in Brazil

The people of Santa Cruz do Sul are resilient and SindiTabaco is confident the region will recover from the recent natural disaster. (Video: Taco Tuinstra)

The tobacco industry is coming together to assist Brazilians in Rio Grande do Sul, which in early May suffered the biggest floods in the state’s history, particularly in the Rio Pardo Valley region.

As one of the world’s leading tobacco growing areas, Rio Grande do Sul plays a key role in global leaf supply (see “The Great Scramble,” Tobacco Reporter, May 2023). To help flood victims, the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco) and its member companies have been carrying out various initiatives.  

Among other things, local tobacco companies have continued paying salaries to employees unable to come to work as a result of the floods.

The trade group and its members have also been donating basic food items, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, and furniture, providing personal loans for reconstruction to associates, and offering mental support from psychologists.

In addition, tobacco companies and associations have also donated power generators and water tanks, as well as boats and vehicles for rescuing stranded people and animals.

Many tobacco operations were brought to a standstill by the floods, but gradually resumed operations the next week, according to SindiTabaco. (Photo: Taco Tuinstra)
Iro Schuenke

According to SindiTabaco, most tobacco operations came to a standstill after the floods hit on April 30, and gradually resumed the following week. “This is a crisis of an unprecedented degree, in which basic services are in jeopardy, like the lack of drinkable water and scarce communication,” said SindiTabaco President Iro Schunke in a statement.

Many member companies in the affected regions, he added, had difficulties contacting their employees.

In addition to looking after their employees, the tobacco companies are now working on recovery plans for their contracted farmers. According to Schunke, Brazil’s widely acclaimed integrated production system is now giving contractors a good grasp of the needs of the impacted growers. The high per-kilo earnings from this year’s crop should help farmers in the recovery process.

“The upcoming tobacco crop is in its initial phase and we are going to do a survey to come to grips with the losses that occurred. Just like what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are going to move forward with resilience, joining efforts toward what has to be done,” said Schunke.

Readers wishing to support relief efforts in southern Brazil, can donate to the Rotary Club of Venancio Aires, which is headed by Inacio Leisman of Tabacos Marasca (see chart for bank details).

According to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Brazil exported 512 million kg of tobacco with a value of $2.73 billion in 2023.