The declaration from agricultural leaders from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe came in response to draft proposals from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The FCTC recommends, among other things, that governments phase out tobacco farming by limiting the land where it can be grown and endorsing the dismantling of all bodies connecting governments with growers-such as the tobacco boards.
This would put farmers’ livelihoods at risk while failing to offer an economically viable alternative crop.
Antonio Abrunhosa, chief executive officer of the InternationalTobacco Growers Association, who addressed the regional meeting, said: ‘‘There’s now a unified voicet hroughout Southern and East Africa that’s determined to protect the land, the jobs, and the communities sustained by tobacco farming.”
The ITGA represents more than 30 million tobacco farmers around the world.
African tobacco farmers support millions of people throughout the region and their crops are a vital source of foreign revenue for many of these countries.
In Malawi, seven out of 10 workers are either directly or indirectly employed by the sector and tobacco represents 70 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and 15 percent of total GDP.
Francois van der Merwe, chairman of ITGA Africa Region, said the unified voice of these farmers affirms the defence of their right to grow tobacco and the crucial role it plays in the region’s economy.
“These farmers are prepared to stand up to this 21st century imperialism from a body comprising mainly health officials who are out of touch with the farming sector and who are putting our economy at risk,” he said.
Jorge Nestor, the Argentinean President of ITGA, reaffirmed its unshakeable support of tobacco growers from all over the world.
The ITGA is a non-profit organisation that works to advance the cause of millions of tobacco farmers to the world.It strives to provide a strong collective voice on an international and national scale in order to ensure the long-term security of tobacco farming communities.Post published in: Agriculture