Growers ‘languishing in poverty’

| May 18, 2016

Tobacco farmers in the Kuria district of Migori County, Kenya, are languishing in poverty after having grown the cash crop for a long time, according to a story in the People Daily. Buying companies are said to have pulled out, leaving farmers with degraded agricultural land.

The Kuria people had in the past invested heavily in tobacco farming, which used to earn a good profit, and had abandoned food crops in the process.

But after decades of growing tobacco, farmers say cigarette manufacturers and tobacco buying companies use or export tobacco to reap good profits at the expense of farmers’ sweat. It is the buyers who dictate prices, they say.

Augustine Mwita, who was the Kenya Tobacco Farmers Association chairman, alleged that the buyers abandoned their contracted farmers without paying their dues or compensating them. Some of the tobacco-buying companies were now sourcing tobacco from Uganda and Malawi, claiming that the Kuria district no longer produced quality tobacco.

“The buying companies pulled out without giving prior notice to the farmers who are now contemplating seeking legal redress to compel the companies to pay tobacco farmers,” said Mwita.

Some farmers claim that soils have been left barren because of the felling of trees for use in tobacco production.

At the same time, most farmers and some children are said to have been left at the mercy of various ailments they suffered because of a lack of protective gear, a problem that, in the case of the children, had contributed to ‘alarming school dropout rates’.

Category: Breaking News

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