More than 2 lakh registered tobacco farmers from India have asked for representation in the global working group under the United Nations' Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which is expected to take up the issue of crop size reduction next year.
Tobacco farmers organisations have pointed out that in the 5th Conference of Parties (CoP) under FCTC, held in November 2012 in Seoul, an agreement on reducing global crop size could not be arrived at due to lack of representation from farmers.
“India was represented only by health ministry officials, who have inadequate knowledge about the tobacco crop. This led to the FCTC asking for redrafting the action plan to reduce the crop size,” PS Muralibabu, general secretary, Kondapi Tobacco Growers Association (from Andhra Pradesh), told FE.
In their representation to the commerce ministry, farmers have said that five large tobacco-growing countries — the US, Argentina, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Malawi — have not signed the FCTC. Thus, farmers in these five countries stand to gain if the size of the tobacco crop is curbed in India under FCTC directives.
“Due to lack of representation from farmers, FCTC has deferred the issue of curtailing the size of the tobacco crop to the next CoP, scheduled to be held in 2014,” a tobacco board official said.
India has committed to cut the crop size gradually, estimated at 2 lakh hectare currently, so that a large chunk of the agricultural land used for producing tobacco can be used to grow foodgrain. Being a signatory to the FCTC, the pressure on India to reduce tobacco cultivation would be immense in coming years.