They complain about the bad prices for leaf tobacco which are lower than the production costs. They complain about the tobacco industry rejecting their tobacco leaving them without any money. They are tobacco growers. We report about their complaints since years.
In September 2016, tobacco farmers aired their views in New Delhi during the general annual meeting of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA). Their problems are real. The tobacco industry could resolve them by offering better prices and ending price collusions. Instead the industry is using the ITGA for their own purposes.
Having a say at the WHO
In November the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will take place in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. In the run-up to the conference, the ITGA has launched a global media campaign and demands access to the negotiations.
The ITGA claims, that tobacco farmers would be deprived from their livelihood by tobacco control measures, that there would be no economically viable alternatives to tobacco, and that no agriculture experts would participate in the conference. Therefore, ITGA should have a say in Noida.
The arguments are refutable: tobacco growers are farmers who could also grow different crops. There are alternatives to tobacco growing in many countries, as soon as policial and financial support to the farmers is provided. Members from Ministeries of Agriculture from tobacco growing countries are participating in the conference.
Using the ITGA, the tobacco industry tries to gain access to the negotiations from which the industry is usually excluded.
Who is the International Tobacco Growers’ Association?
The International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) was founded in 1984 as a worldwide association of tobacco growers’ unions.
ITGA members are tobacco farmers’ associations from tobacco growing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Zimbabwe. The Malawian member Tobacco Growers’ Association of Malawi (TAMA), for instance, is dominated by owners of large estates and does not represent the interests of smallholder farmers, tobacco tenants or estate workers.
Only few years after its foundation, the tobacco industry took over ITGA and changed the association into a front group against tobacco control measures. Since then, ITGA is financed by the tobacco industry, lobbies at the FAO and tries to get the discussions on child labour and environmental destruction in tobacco growing under control.
For more information:
INFOTAB (1988): International Tobacco Growers’ Association
INFOTAB (1991): File ITGA
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (2011): Tobacco Industry Front Group: The International Tobacco Growers’ Association
FCA et. al (2014): International Tobacco Growers’ Association – Frequently asked questions