GUNTUR: The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), has appealed the Union government to include tobacco in Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) scheme and encourage exports through aggressive promotion schemes. It said that the government has removed tobacco export incentives, making India a less competitor in the global market, whereas other countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi are encouraging their tobacco farmers with incentives and subsidies.
At tobacco growers meeting held on Thursday, FAIFA president and former tobacco board member, Javare Gowda said that farming community has faced business losses of over Rs 6,000 crore, with a drop in Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco production from 325 million kg in 2014-15 to 210 million kg in 2019-20. This is primarily because of rising illicit cigarette trade in India on account of higher and punitive taxation on cigarettes due to which legal cigarette volumes sales have dropped significantly, said Gowda.
He said that India has become 4th largest illegal cigarette market in the world. He said that the illicit cigarette market in India has doubled from a level of 13.5 billion sticks in 2006 to 28 billion sticks in 2019. “As smuggled cigarettes do not use Indian tobacco, the off-take of tobacco for manufacture of legal cigarettes in India is declining. As a result, FCV cultivation is reducing leading to farmers incurring a loss in excess of Rs 1300 crore every year,” said Gowda.
Vice-president Gadde Seshagiri Rao said that tobacco provides direct and indirect employment to more than 45.7 million people, around 70% of whom are in the agricultural sector. He said that tobacco is a highly remunerative crop providing economic/social benefits to farmers in the tobacco growing regions. “Studies conducted by the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) have also shown that there is no other equally remunerative crop in the tobacco growing regions. Hence, it is important that Centre extends the required support to tobacco growers,” demanded Rao. General secretary Murali Babu and Yashwanth Chidipothu were also present.
TOBACCO GROWERS AT LOSS
*FCV Tobacco Growers facing loss in excess of Rs 1300 crore every year because rising smuggled and illicit cigarettes
*India is the 4th largest and fastest growing cigarette market in the world – Illegal cigarette sales have increased from 13.5 billion sticks in 2006 to 28 billion in 2019
*More than Rs 6,000 crore loss to the FCV Tobacco Farming community in the last 7 years
*FAIFA appealed the government to develop a consultative approach and include tobacco farmers while framing tobacco control regulations