Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The International Tobacco Growers Association has complained over the exclusion of agricultural experts from the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s 6th meeting which will be held in Moscow from October 13 to 18 as this will affect major decisions reached at the convention.
ITGA president, Mr Francois van der Merwe, said it was unfair that the WHO FCTC governing body will make decisions that affect tobacco growers without the farmers’ input.
“Recommendations to be put include a prohibition of support for tobacco farmers,” he said. “The recommendations will be made by health officials without the presence of agricultural ministries to provide balance.
“The argument that growing tobacco in Africa detracts from food production is part of the Geneva bureaucrats’ smoke and mirrors campaign. Tobacco forms part of a diverse cropping system and is an important and reliable income source that enhances food security. Numerous studies have shown that there is no direct causal link between tobacco cultivation and poverty.”
Mr Van de Merwe said the FCTC wanted to force through a provision that gives health issues a priority over trade agreements.
He said more than 90 percent of all of Africa’s tobacco was exported: it is one of the top 10 products, by value, traded within the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.