Tobacco Farmers Felicitated for Adopting Modern and Scientific Farming Practices at the 19th ‘TII Tobacco Farmers’ Awards Ceremony

  • 17 Tobacco Farmers Awarded for exemplary farming practices and crop achievements
  • Late Shri Kakarla Surya Prakash Rao from Northern Light Soil Region of Andhra Pradesh bagged the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously
  • Extreme regulations and excessive taxation on legal Cigarettes has provided a huge boost to illicit cigarette trade which now account for 1/4th of the Indian Cigarette market
  • Illicit trade affects earnings of cigarette tobacco farmers and revenue loss of Rs.13,000 crores per annum to the Government
  • TII welcomed the efforts of the Tobacco Board and the Union Commerce Ministry to develop a Comprehensive Policy for the Tobacco Sector aimed at providing a long term roadmap for the economic viability of Indian tobaccos
  • Tobacco farmers appealed for a balanced tobacco policy in order to protect the livelihood of tobacco farmers in the country

 Guntur, 8 February 2019: The Tobacco Institute of India (TII) today held the 19th annual Tobacco Farmers Award ceremony to felicitate the cigarette leaf tobacco farmers for adopting modern and scientific farming practices, improving yield, producing better varieties, and making Indian tobaccos competitive in the global market. On the occasion, TII also thanked the Tobacco Board which has, over the years, made pivotal contribution towards the promotion of tobacco exports and the welfare of tobacco farmers in the country.

TII also applauded the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) for its continuous research and crop enhancement programmes that have been instrumental in improving the quality and yield of tobacco produced in India.

Shri Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy, Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture, Sericulture and Agri-Processing, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh inaugurated the event in the presence of Shri Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, Hon’ble Ex-Member of Parliament, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh; Shri Modugula Venugopala Reddy; Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Guntur West, Andhra Pradesh; Shri Mohammad Musthafa Shaik; Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Guntur East, Andhra Pradesh; Smt. K. Sunitha, IAS, Chairman & Executive Director, Tobacco Board; Shri G. Satyanarayana, Vice Chairman, Tobacco Board; Dr. D. Damodar Reddy Director, CTRI; Members of the Tobacco board and a large number of tobacco farmers.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Shri Syed Mahmood Ahmad, Director, Tobacco Institute of India, said, “The consistent interventions made by the Tobacco Board in areas of farm mechanization, post-harvest product management and elimination of non-tobacco related materials and many more initiatives have been vital in improving quality and yield of FCV tobaccos in the country.”  

 Mr. Ahmad also welcomed the ongoing efforts of the Tobacco Board and the Union Commerce Ministry to develop a Comprehensive Policy for the Tobacco Sector aimed at providing a long term roadmap for the economic viability of Indian tobaccos and the prosperity & livelihood protection of the tobacco farming community in the country.

India is the 2nd largest producer of tobacco in the world providing livelihood to 4.6 crore people in the country. Tobacco production has been providing sustainable incomes to farmers and has resulted in a positive change in the socio-economic standards of the farmers, farm workers and their families. 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.

Mr. Ahmad said, “Any tobacco control policy adopted by the Indian Government or by any Global Body to which India is a signatory, that threatens the livelihood of such a large number of Indians can lead to unemployment and major social instability particularly in the rural areas.”

Legal Cigarettes that use FCV tobaccos in India account for a mere 10% of total tobacco consumption and yet they are the major contributor providing 86% of the Government’s revenue collections from tobacco. The majority of tobacco consumption is constituted by other tobacco product forms such as bidis, chewing tobacco, khaini, etc., and illegal cigarettes. The reason for this distorted pattern of collections is that over the years Cigarettes have been subjected to high and discriminatory rates of taxation compared with other tobacco products.

The high tax cost of duty-paid cigarettes over time has resulted in a significant shift in consumption to illegal cigarettes and other tax inefficient/tax evaded tobacco products. 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.

The Tobacco Institute of India and the farming community appeals to the Indian Policy Makers to engage in wide ranging consultations with various stakeholders including tobacco farmers on an ongoing basis to ensure pragmatic policy development in all areas that are connected with tobacco cultivation and tobacco regulation and which impact the long term sustainability and socio-economic viability of the tobacco sector in the country.

Like many other major tobacco growing countries, India needs a balanced, practical and non-discriminatory tobacco policy in order to resolve the ongoing stress experienced by tobacco farmers and in order to mitigate the immense hardship of the legal cigarette industry within the overall tobacco control objectives.

 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.