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Tobacco said to threaten food security

| March 18, 2014

Food security in Bangladesh could be under threat because of the government’s failure to discourage a rapid growth in tobacco plantings, according to a story in the New Age quoting unnamed specialists at the Department of Agriculture’s extension service.

The department’s spokespeople said that tobacco acreage in Bangladesh had gone from 29,290 ha in fiscal year 2007–2008 to 55,950 ha in 2012–2013, while tobacco production had gone from 40,240 tonnes to 103,650 tonnes during the same period.

And they said that tobacco production was gradually shifting from the north to the south and hill districts.

Tobacco companies were said to recruit farmers by offering them free seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and whatever they needed for cultivation. But declining profits for traditional crops were also blamed for large numbers of farmers switching from rice to tobacco.

Unnamed anti-tobacco campaigners were quoted as saying that tobacco companies won over farmers by promising profits that often did not materialize.

They bought farmers’ crops and guaranteed a steady demand and stable prices.

And farmers did not have to worry about selling their leaf because the buyers came to their farms to buy it.

The campaigners said, however, that many farmers later realized that growing tobacco was not as profitable as it had seemed to be, but they were unable to quit tobacco because they could not repay the loans they had taken from the companies.

Category: Breaking News

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