Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tobacco cultivation on the rise

Tobacco cultivation on the rise

Food security threatened

News Report The cultivation of tobacco has seen a sharp rise in Lalmonirhat and the rest of the country. The lack of awareness about its bad impact on soil fertility and the profitable offers from different tobacco companies are the main contributing factors. Farmers have also diverted to tobacco cultivation as the low and uncertain price of rice has discouraged them. Some farmers, who are aware about the harmful impact on soil fertility, want to stop tobacco cultivation (they don't get expected output for other crops in the land where tobacco is cultivated later on), but they have no option but to continue to produce tobacco since it allows them to make money, thanks to easy market access and different attractive incentives from tobacco companies. According to figures from the Department of Agriculture Extension, about 108,000 hectares of land are being used to cultivate tobacco this year, which is significantly higher compared to last year's figure of about seventy thousand. BSS adds: Anti-tobacco campaigners at a meeting have blamed some tobacco companies for adopting various techniques in luring farmers in tobacco cultivation creating threat to food security, public health, environment and soil fertility. They also stressed on ensuring pictorial warnings on packets of all tobacco products and strict enforcement of the amended Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and tobacco control laws to save many human lives from tobacco catastrophe. They made the observation at the regional meeting organised by Anti Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) for its members with assistanceof Association for Community Development (ACD) at its Regional Office here on Monday. The ATMA member journalists of the print, electronic and online media from Rangpur region participated in the meeting with ATMA member Harun-Ar-Rashid in the chair. Journalist members of ATMA ABS Litan, Kashi Nath Das, Moynul Islam, SM Piyal, Asaduzzaman Asad, Liyakat Ali Badal, Mahbubul Islam and Asaduzzaman Afzal addressed the meeting, among others. Project Coordinator of ACD Ehsanul Amin Emon narrated about the tobacco cultivation situation, different aspects and violation of the amended TCA, health hazards of smoking in public places and success achieved so far by ATMA in the anti- tobacco campaign. Citing their recent survey reports, Emon blamed that some tobacco companies were promising attractive price and luring farmers through providing tobacco seed, seedling, fertiliser, pesticides, inputs and cash money binding them for cultivating tobacco. "The tobacco companies have been adopting newer techniques and providing lucrative incentives to attract farmers to spread tobacco cultivation taking the advantage of lower market price of other traditional crops," he said. "Tobacco cultivation reduces land fertility, decreases cereal food production posing threat to food security, increases many deadly diseases side by side with affecting the environment, ecology and bio-diversity," he added. The participants expressed concern over the slower enforcement pace and violation of the tobacco control laws by different tobacco companies and stressed on ensuring pictorial warnings on packets of all tobacco products before marketing those. They cited that some tobacco companies and factories were marketing their tobacco products like 'Bidi', cigarette, 'Jorda' and 'Gul' without or partially exhibiting mandatory pictorial winnings on packets violating concerned tobacco control laws. In his concluding speech, Harun-Ar-Rashid stressed on strengthening media reporting to focus about the threat of tobacco farming to serial food production, health hazards and environment, ecology and soil fertility.

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