World Tobacco Growers’ Day: tobacco growers urge government to oppose WHO’s FCTC proposals
October 30, 2012: Anjuman Kashtkaran-e-Tobacco joined all the members of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) on Monday to mark the first-ever World Tobacco Growers’ Day and urge governments to oppose proposals by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that threaten the livelihoods of more than 30 million tobacco growers and farm workers.
These proposals will be voted on within two weeks at the WHO’s meeting in Seoul, South Korea. “As we celebrate the benefit our farms bring to our communities, we are also asking our leaders to stand with us, to hear our voices and to give us the opportunity to work together to protect our way of life,” said Rustam Khan Swati, President Anjuman Kashtkaran and tobacco Hazara division. “Should these draconian measures become law they’ll have a dire impact on the livelihoods of forty thousand growers in Pakistan and 37 percent FED we contribute to the local economy.”
Anjuman Kashtkaran and tobacco supports the original intent of the FCTC’s article 17 treaty which was to provide “technical and financial assistance to aid the economic transition of tobacco growers and workers” as a decline in tobacco production consumption resulted in lower demand for our crop. However, the proposals under consideration currently represent a departure from this original goal as they seek to artificially reduce the supply of tobacco without providing growers any viable alternatives to support their families. This is despite estimates that demand for tobacco will increase in coming years.
Last month, growers on four continents, including Anjuman kashtkaran and tobacco launched a petition drive to ask their local government to oppose these elements of the proposals that will be voted on by the WHO’s FCTC. As part of World Tobacco Growers’ Day, these petitions were delivered to Minister of Finance, Chairman FBR, Chairman PTB and Minister of Commerce calling for their unwavering support for tobacco growers and an opposition to any plans that would threaten our livelihoods.
“The FCTC has not heard the voice of growers and has gone off track in pursuing absurd proposals that are contrary to its original mandate,” continued Swati “Today we simply ask to be heard and to become part of the solution.” Specifically, the growers are calling on our leaders to oppose: banning minimum support prices and leaf auctions, restricting production by regulating the seasons when tobacco can be grown, reducing the area allocated for tobacco farming, banning technical support for tobacco farmers, dismantling all bodies connecting growers with governments. “Tobacco growers of the world will not stand idly by and watch as their fates are sealed,” said Swati “Our government leaders must understand that these issues will have consequences not only for us but for the communities we live in.”