Tobacco farmers in India have asked the government to increase the size of crop areas and promote the export of tobacco in order to curb smuggling, reports BusinessLine.
The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) has said that the crop size is on the decline because of health concerns and that not enough is being done to find suitable alternatives. According to BusinessLine, the crop size in Andhra Pradesh is 115 million kg this year, down from 135 million kg last year. The decline in crop size impacts negatively on sales and exports and also facilitates smuggling of cigarettes.
“The export opportunity for tobacco has been significantly reduced. The number of countries to which tobacco is exported has come down to 80 from 120, adversely impacting the business prospects,” said Murali Babu, General Secretary of FAIFA.
“Besides, the government has removed tobacco export incentives, making the country less competitive in the global market, while countries like Zimbabwe and Malawi are encouraging their tobacco farmers by providing incentives and subsidies,” he pointed out.
According to FAIFA, India has the fourth-largest illegal cigarette market in the world, doubling from 13.5 billion sticks in 2006 to 28 billion sticks in 2019.
“We demand immediate and strict regulations to curb rising illicit cigarette markets so that Indian farmers can benefit,” Yashwanth Chidipothu, National Spokesperson of FAIFA, said.