New Delhi: Tobacco Board is likely to meet farmers from Karnataka soon to discuss alternative crops options, as time is running out for India to meet global health obligations.
“We are working on the exact date though we will meet in another 10 days. After consultations with all stakeholders, we will submit the detailed report to the Commerce Ministry,” Tobacco Board chairman J Suresh Babu said.
India became a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003, whereby it has to reduce tobacco farming by 50 % within 10-15 years of signing the pact.
The Commerce Ministry had mandated the Tobacco Board to prepare a road map on shifting the farmers to alternaive crops and work out a rehabilitation formula for those whose livelihood depends upon such cultivation.
India has 96,865 registered tobacco cultivaters, mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The meeting assumes significance amid concerns about farmers resorting to such cultivation more vigorously after prices of the commodity hit records at domestic auctions, following a spurt in exports.
Earlier in August, the Board had said the tobacco acreage in Karnataka had shot up to about 80,000 hectares, against 75,000 hectares last year. Increasing acreage also prompted the Board to issue warning against illegal cultivation.
On its part, the Board has already discussed the issue with growers, representatives of the farm department of Andhra Pradesh, agriculture university and the Central Tobacco Research Institute.