- 10 tobacco farmers of Karnataka felicitated for exhibiting excellence in farming
- Event attended by political leaders, tobacco industry players, farmers, and mediapersons
- Tobacco and tobacco products generate annual foreign exchange earnings of Rs 6,500 crore
- The Indian tobacco industry contributes Rs 12 lakh crore to the country’s economy
- Government should extend export incentives to tobacco
- Illegal cigarettes now represent 1/3rd of the Indian legal cigarette market
- Growing Illicit cigarette trade severely impacts the Legal Industry, Government revenues and earnings of cigarette tobacco farmers
Mysuru, 28 April 2022: The Tobacco Institute of India (TII) today organized the 21st edition of the Tobacco Farmers’ Awards to give recognition to enterprising farmers, who have demonstrated the benefits arising out of contemporary farming practices, leading to exemplary performance and enhanced productivity levels.
The awards ceremony was attended by Shri Prathap Simha, Hon’ble Member of Parliament from Mysuru and Kodagu; Shri H. P. Manjunath, Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Hunsur; Shri K. Mahadeva, Hon’ble Member of Legislative Assembly, Periyapatna; Shri Y. Raghunadha Babu, Chairman, Tobacco Board; Shri M. Subrahmanyeswara Reddy, Member, Tobacco Board; Dr. S. Ramakrishan, Head, CTRI, Hunsur; and Shri Javare Gowda, Farmer Leader from Karnataka.
The ceremony witnessed the felicitation of 10 tobacco farmers from Karnataka in two separate categories – ‘Best Farmer’ and ‘Recognition’. Following is the list of winners:
|M N Ramachandra
|M. P. Koppal
|H M Paramesha
|S V Yoganna
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Shri Sharad Tandan, Director, TII said, “these awards were meant to endorse TII’s firm support to tobacco farmers and acknowledge their important socioeconomic contribution to the country.”
He added that Tobacco is an extremely important commercial crop in India, making enormous socioeconomic contribution in terms of agricultural employment, farm incomes, revenue generation and foreign exchange earnings. India is the world’s second largest tobacco producer and a leading exporter, with exports of leaf tobacco and tobacco products generating annual foreign exchange earnings of around Rs 6,500 crore.
The Tobacco Industry in India is a large contributor to the economy, contributing around Rs 12 lakh crore, according to an ASSOCHAM study.
The Golden Leaf in India provides livelihood to 4.6 crore people which includes farmers, farm labour, bidi workers, tendu leaf pluckers, traders and retailers etc. It is also a highly labour intensive and remunerative crop providing much higher returns than other crops grown in the region. Studies conducted by the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) have also confirmed that no single crop is more remunerative than FCV tobacco in this region.
FCV is the main exportable tobacco produced in India and more than half is exported with the rest used in domestic cigarette manufacture. Due to the small and shrinking share of tobacco consumption in the form of legal cigarettes (8%), non-cigarette tobacco varieties dominate production in India. However, FCV tobacco exports alone garner foreign exchange earnings of around Rs 3,000 crore annually.
“In order to augment competitiveness of Indian tobaccos in the global market and to boost exports, the government should extend export incentives to tobacco in line with its thrust on promoting India’s agri-exports.” Mr Tandan said.
Tobacco has the potential to become a major export commodity for India provided the cash crop is supported by favorable regulatory and export policies.
It is indeed a matter of serious concern that the legal cigarette Industry in India has been under huge distress in the last decade with massive drop in cigarette volumes, on the back of excessively high taxation, extreme tobacco regulations and the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic.
Extreme regulations and high taxation produce counter-productive results. They do not reduce demand for tobacco, but merely shift it from the legal tax-paid and regulation-compliant products to cheaper, tax-evaded regulation non-compliant illegal products.
The current tobacco control law in India is amongst the most stringent in the world particularly when compared with other tobacco producing countries like USA, China, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Tobacco control measures in India have also been far more stringent than the top tobacco/cigarette consuming countries, the USA, China and Japan, who amongst them account for around 50% of global consumption. For instance, India with 85% pictorial warnings, is ranked eighth in the world, by the size of warnings, whereas the global average warning size is less than 45%.
While legal cigarettes adhere to all regulations, illegal cigarettes do not comply with any regulations such as the mandated large pictorial warnings. In fact, absence of pictorial warnings on packs of smuggled international brands of cigarettes conveys to consumers an impression that these cigarettes are safer alternatives to their Legal counterparts. Illegal operators taking advantage of the consumer
preference for non-compliant packaging are flooding the Indian markets with attractive cigarette packs without pictorial warnings.
High tax burden on cigarettes has provided lucrative arbitrage opportunities for tax-evasion, inducing cigarette smuggling on a large scale.
It is, therefore, not surprising that India has become the 4th largest illicit cigarette market in the world, resulting in an estimated annual revenue loss of more than Rs. 15,000 crores to the Government. Illegal cigarettes now represent 1/3rd of the Indian legal cigarette market. This thriving contraband trade severely impacts the Legal Industry, Government revenues and earnings of cigarette tobacco farmers in the country.
The growing illicit cigarette trade has severely impacted Indian FCV tobacco farmers as contraband products do not use locally grown tobaccos. From a normal crop size of 316 million kgs in 2013-14, the crop size has shrunk to an average crop size of around 218 million kgs per annum for the past 5 years. The massive drop in FCV tobacco production has resulted in loss of livelihood of farmers and workers in the tobacco growing areas of the country. An estimated 35 million man-days of employment have been lost due to the FCV tobacco crop reduction in the country causing huge shrinkage in farmer earnings.
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.