Indian tobacco grower representatives and the Tobacco Board of India have expressed strong opposition to certain of the draft recommendations made by the working group of the fifth Conference of the Parties (CoP5) of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.
CoP5 is due to be held in Seoul on November 12-17.
The Board, which represents a 36 million tobacco farming community, said that the proposals would directly impact six million growers and about 20 million farm laborers.
The FCTC had originally suggested that governments that had signed and ratified the convention should promote viable alternatives to tobacco and ensure the sector delivered safe working conditions and a sustainable environment.
However, the working group now seems to be promoting a policy to cut back on tobacco cultivation by reducing the area allocated to the crop and stopping all government and private support to leaf producers.
These policies would be devastating for tobacco growers, especially given that no viable alternative crops have been identified.
Growers are of the view that there might be no viable alternatives to tobacco.
Meanwhile, the Board is urging the Indian government to ask the working group to take on board the views of tobacco farmers’ organizations and agricultural policy specialists in the decision making process on alternative crops.
According to the original goals of the FCTC, tobacco growers and workers should have been involved in the deliberations, but until now such people have been totally excluded from the debate.
“The FCTC consultation process has allowed a few health ministry bureaucrats to seal the fate of crores [tens of millions] of small tobacco peasants and agricultural laborers without considering the realities of tobacco farming,” a member of the Board was quoted as saying.
Tobacco growers in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka observed October 29 as World Tobacco Growers’ Day in protest at the FCTC recommendations.