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Tobacco growers oppose WHO’s recommendation of substitute crops

Urs has appealed to the government to investigate claims of the WHO and has demanded the WHO to deposit Rs 1,000 crore to the Tobacco Board
Last Updated : 03 June 2023, 21:45 IST

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Farmers, especially tobacco growers, have opposed the World Health Organisation (WHO), on its recommendation on substituting tobacco with alternative crops, terming it as unsubstantiated.

Vikram Raj Urs, joint secretary, Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), said, "Climate change and extreme taxation is pushing tobacco farmers' livelihoods to the brink. Farmers' earnings have shrunk cumulatively by more than Rs 7,500 crore since 2013-14, due to crop substitution. Over 100 million kg of tobacco production is affected due to severe climate events. WHO's recommendation to grow alternative crops on semi-arid lands, where even a draught-resistant crop like tobacco is facing challenges due to climate change, is unscientific."

Urs has appealed to the government to investigate claims of the WHO and has demanded the WHO to deposit Rs 1,000 crore to the Tobacco Board, to compensate the farmers for the loss due to crop substitution.

FAIFA, representing farmers and farm workers of commercial crops in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat, challenged the WHO to provide evidence on its recommendation that alternative crops should replace tobacco crops as they are negatively impacting sustainable agriculture and contributing to global food crisis.

"High taxation results in a surge of illegal and smuggled cigarettes. These illegal cigarettes offer attractive pricing as they avoid GST and other taxes, providing higher margins to retailers. Illicit cigarettes increased by 44% over a decade, from 19.5 billion sticks in 2011 to 28.1 billion sticks in 2020, according to Euromonitor International," Urs pointed out.

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Published 03 June 2023, 20:04 IST

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