The International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) together with farmers from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa meeting in Harare recently said policy makers needed to appreciate the contribution of the sector into respective countries’ economies.
(READ MORE: Proposed tobacco regulation could hurt burley farmers)
"The people driving these policies are completely out of touch with reality and fail to recognise the positive economic contribution that tobacco growing makes to Africa," ITGA president, Francois van der Merwe said.
"This is a high-value cash crop very much suited to small-hold farming, and has changed the lives of many African farmers for the better."
The president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, (ZTA) Gavin Foster, pointed out that most of the tobacco produced in Africa is exported.
"Growers are naturally concerned about efforts in the context of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to change the way tobacco is treated in the international trading system," he said.
"If allowed, such changes would prevent tobacco-producing countries like Zimbabwe from legitimately defending and benefiting from those exports."
African tobacco growers appealed to governments around the world and particularly those from tobacco-growing countries to grant tobacco growers the right of consultation in the development and implementation of policies that directly impact on them.
“Governments should ensure that policy recommendations on tobacco adopted at the next Conference of the Parties (COP6) of the FCTC are practical and do not penalise growers for whom tobacco crops are a route out of poverty and a way of life,” read part of the demands.
The meeting also called for governments to engage in a constructive dialogue on practical recommendations to deal with issues such as exploiting child labour and sustainability across the agricultural sector.