- 17 Tobacco Farmers Awarded for exemplary farming practices and crop achievements.
- Shri H. J. Mutturaju from LakshmipuraVillage of Hunsur baggedthe Lifetime Achievement Award
- Earnings of FCV tobacco farmers have shrunk cumulatively by around Rs. 3,700 crores due to continuous drop in the off-take as a result of shrinkage in domestic legal cigarettes
- Tobacco famers appealed to the Government to strike a balance between the country’s excessive Cigarette taxation & regulations and the livelihood of people
Mysuru, 20th January 2018: The Tobacco Institute of India (TII), today held the 18th annual TII Tobacco Farmers’ Award ceremony to recognize tobacco farmers for adopting contemporary farming practices that help improve yields, produce better varieties and make Indian tobaccos competitive in the global market.On the occasion, TII also expressed its unstinted support to the tobacco farmers acknowledging their significant socio-economic contribution to the country’s economy.
Gracing the occasion were Shri A. Manju, Hon’ble Minister of Karnataka; Shri R. Dhruvanarayana, Member of Parliament; Shri Sa. Ra. Mahesh, Member of the Legislative Assembly; Shri A. Sridhar Babu, Secretary of the Tobacco Board; Dr. Ramakrishnan from CTRI; Members of the Tobacco board and a large number of tobacco farmers.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Shri Syed Mahmood Ahmad, Director, TII, said, “These awards seek to felicitate and encourage the cigarette leaf tobacco farming community for its effort in adopting modern and scientific farming practices, which would help improve yields, produce improved varieties, and make Indian tobaccos competitive in the global market.”
India is the 2nd largest producer of tobacco in the world providing livelihood to 45.7 million people in the country. Tobacco products generate a significant share of the country’s Tax revenues amounting to more than Rs. 34,000 crores annually. In addition, foreign exchange earnings through the export of tobacco and tobacco products garner around Rs. 6,000 crores per annum. No other country in the world unlike India has such a huge and wide-spread dependence on the tobacco crop for livelihood.
However, the Legal Cigarette Industry has come under tremendous stress in the recent times due to successive years of escalating taxes and extreme tobacco control regulations. In the last 6 years, the cumulative growth in rates of tax on cigarettes has been staggering 202%.
Mr. Ahmad said, “The excessive taxation on Cigarettes has given a huge boost to Smuggled Cigarettes and opened the floodgates for contraband cigarettes at both the premium as well as the value end of the market. The increase in the already huge tax arbitrage available to tax-evading operators provides an enormous boost to smuggling syndicates and severely undermines the legal cigarette industry, adversely impact tobacco farmers and revenue objective of the Government.”
The thriving illegal cigarette trade which now accounts for 1/4th of the Cigarette Industry in India is not only causing substantial revenue loss to the Government (estimated at more than Rs.13000 crore per annum) but also affecting the livelihood of tobacco farmers as smuggled cigarettes do not use domestically produced tobaccos.
Mr. Ahmad added, “The continuing growth of illegal cigarettes has resulted in lower utilization of FCV tobacco by the adversely affected legal domestic cigarette industry impacting the offtake of FCV tobaccos. In fact, since 2013-14, the earnings of FCV tobacco farmers have shrunk cumulatively by around Rs. 3,700 crores due to drop in offtake of tobacco for the manufacture of domestic legal cigarettes.”
Extreme regulations and a high taxation policy against cigarettes do not control overall tobacco consumption. It only compounds the distress of Legal Industry and the lakhs of farmers dependent on it. Hence, policy makers should recognize the huge livelihood-dependency on tobacco and the significant contribution of the legal industry to the exchequer while making policies with regard to tobacco.
The prosperity of Indian FCV Tobacco Farmers is inextricably linked with the domestic cigarette industry. It is indeed very important to strike a balance between the country’s excessive Cigarette taxation & regulations and the livelihood of people. A balanced approach will protect the livelihood of lakhs of FCV tobacco farmers by combating the surging illegal cigarette trade.
The Tobacco Institute of India and the farming community appeal to the Government to intervene by adopting balanced and evidence-based tobacco policy.
About TII Awards:
The Tobacco Institute of India (TII) instituted the TII Tobacco Farmers’ Awards in the year 1999 to recognize and encourage the Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco farming community into adopting modern and scientific farming practices. These awards seek to facilitate improvement in yields, productivity, quality and global competitiveness of the domestic cigarette tobaccos through adoption of contemporary farming practices.
The response and success of these awards over the years encouraged us to subsequently extend them, in 2009, to include the air-cured varieties of tobacco also.
This annual awards ceremony also provides a platform for all stakeholders in tobacco sector to meet and interact on issues of common interest, particularly regarding farming practices and policy formation.