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Non-ratification of tobacco convention may cost India 38 mn jobs

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Due to non-ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), 38 million jobs in are under threat and the country may also lose Rs.21,000 crore revenue, according to a study.

The study, titled 'Tobacco economics in India: The voice of farmer and other stakeholders', was jointly undertaken by industry lobby Assocham and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).

"A multi-pronged strategy of agricultural diversification in a phased manner and shifting to other economic activities is the need of the hour to provide sustainable livelihood solutions to the people associated with tobacco," suggested the study.

"Such a multi-faceted approach is likely to be more effective than legislation to control tobacco as its cultivation is a lifeline for a sizeable population including rural women, tribals and other weaker sections of the society who have few means of alternative income opportunities," added the study jointly released by D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of Assocham, and Kaushik Dutta, founder, TARI, here Thursday.

Andhra Pradesh contributes nearly 52 percent of India's total tobacco production and also accounts for 45 percent of the area under tobacco cultivation.

The study said non-ratification of the treaty for limiting production of tobacco will lead to trade disputes and illegal smuggling, thereby threatening millions of jobs and result in lower taxes, duties and foreign exchange which comes through exports.

If India withdraws from this market wholly or partially, the market will be catered to by countries which are not bound by any convention and Indian tobacco growers, in the absence of alternative livelihood, would lose the benefit that accrues from exports, the study noted.

"We need to adopt a balanced and well calibrated approach in our policy formation in this regard," said Rawat.

Tobacco provides direct and indirect employment to 38 million people, of whom 75 per cent are in the agricultural sector, with 6 million farmers and 20 million farm labour engaged in tobacco farming, besides 10 million people working in processing, manufacturing and exports while it is estimated that about five million people work in retailing and trading.

Tobacco contributes over Rs 21,000 crore to the national exchequer through foreign exchange earnings and internal excise revenue and accounts for about 10 percent of total agricultural exports from India.

India accounts for about six percent by volume and 0.7 percent by value of the global tobacco trade.

State-wise Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka together have 85 percent of the country's tobacco growing areas. Besides, there are around 90,000 registered tobacco growers in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

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