Tanzania Tobacco Cooperative Apex Limited (TTCA), representing more than 100,000 tobacco farmers in the country, has opposed World Health Organisation (WHO) plans to regulation tobacco farming.
According to a statement issued by TTCA chairman Julius Masongo in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, the WHO proposal, which calls upon governments to phase out tobacco, "will have disastrous consequences if it went through."
Masongo said the proposal puts the jobs of more than 30-million farmers at risk without providing them with any economically viable alternative crops.
“WHO has consistently refused to listen to tobacco growers in drafting the proposal that directly impacts Tanzania’s farmers. By doing so, they act like a blind man driving a steamroller without paying any attention to the consequences of their folly," he said, adding:
“Now is the time for governments to act and oppose these draconian measures.”
He said in a bid to rally governments worldwide in opposition to the measures, TTCA has joined the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) in launching a global petition available online and through growers' associations.
“The petition calls on government leaders in Tanzania to reject these irrational and destructive proposals in favour of a more realistic approach that will help tobacco farmers adapt if and when the demand for tobacco evolves,” he added.
The WHO recommendation seeks to ban minimum support prices and leaf auctions, restrict production by regulating the seasons in which tobacco can be grown.
It also recommends reduction of areas allocated for tobacco farming as well as banning financial or technical support for tobacco farmers.