African farmers speak out against threat of international regulations

Thursday, 21 June 2012, Cape Town — Francois van der Merwe, chairman of International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) Africa Region, spoke to CNBC Africa about proposals by international regulators that will restrict—and eventually prevent—farmers in Africa from producing tobacco, destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“The Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) is going into the soft underbelly of the value chain,” said Van der Merwe, also a tobacco farmer in the region. “They’re going into farmers and want to forcefully remove them and prevent them from growing tobacco.”

He said the current FCTC’s proposals will:

–          prevent government and industry programs and policies that support tobacco growing

–          restrict the amount of land on which tobacco can be grown

–          demand governments simultaneously reduce tobacco production across the globe.

The original mandate of the FCTC was to assist tobacco farmers with alternative crops as the demand for tobacco decreased. We support the FCTC’s objectives of reducing tobacco consumption globally,” he said. “But that is not what is happening, tobacco consumption is very stable, so it is unfair that farmers are being targeted by these latest proposals.”

“We must remember that tobacco in Africa is grown in deep rural areas where other jobs are hard to find. What then will the FCTC say to the farmers? OK, you’ve stopped tobacco, there are no alternatives; how do we now ensure you put food on the plates of your children?”

See the proposals:

See CNBC Africa interview: