The discriminatory regulation of tobacco cultivation will cause a revenue loss of about Rs.21,000 crore annually to India Inc, besides forcing about 3.80 crore people out of livelihood, a study report, jointly conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and the Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI), said.
Releasing the report on ‘Tobacco economics in India: the voice of the farmer and other stakeholders’ here on Thursday, Assocham national Secretary-General D. S. Rawat and TARI founder Kaushik Dutta said non-ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) would have an adverse impact on the lives of a sizable section of people in the country.
The study suggested that a multi-pronged strategy of agricultural diversification in a phased manner and shifting to other economic activities was the need of the hour to provide sustainable livelihood solutions to the people associated with tobacco. “Tobacco cultivation is a lifeline for a sizable population, including rural women, tribal communities and other weaker sections,” Mr. Dutta said.
The alternative livelihood should be based on the capabilities of those involved in tobacco cultivation, and should match their present socio-economic position. “Or else, it will lead to economic imbalance and social conflicts,” Mr. Dutta said.
Further, non-ratification of the treaty for limiting tobacco production would lead to trade disputes and illegal smuggling, thereby threatening millions of jobs and lower realisation of taxes, duties and foreign exchange.
Terming the proposal of the Union Health Ministry to limit only Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco, an export-oriented variety, tobacco farmers said they had no qualms if the government banned all varieties of tobacco, including the ones used in other forms of products.
There was a dichotomy among the policy-makers as the Commerce Ministry wanted FVC exports to grow beyond Rs.10,000 crore by 2015-16 from Rs.6,000 crore in 2013-14.