Tobacco farmers seek participation in Global Tobacco control summit

New Delhi:The Federation of All India Farmer Association (FAIFA) on Thursday urged the government to have representation of tobacco farmers in the upcoming WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), whose failure will lead to further deterioration of their economic condition. The FAIFA said that to fulfill the target of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double farmers' incomes by 2020, there was a need to prevent every kind of discrimination with farmers.  "Rather than addressing the plight of tobacco farmers, India is hosting the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in November 2016. This conference will add further misery to the poor Indian tobacco farmer.  "We appeal to the government of India that Indian farmers must be part of the official delegation of CoP7, else it would put livelihood of millions at risk without any public health benefit,” said FAIFA President B.V. Javare Gowda at an interactive session with parliamentarians to discuss the opportunities and challenges for India to realise the target of doubling farmer incomes by 2022 at an ASSOCHAM event here. Stating that tobacco farmers currently were subjected to the worst-ever discrimination by way of harsh policies and attacks on their livelihoods without providing either a scientific justification or alternative to safeguard their interests, the federation appealed to MPs to withdraw the 85 per cent pictorial warning, which had affected the sale of tobacco grown by them. India will host a crucial global summit November 7-12 to eliminate the illicit trade of tobacco products in which delegates from 180 countries will take part.  According to FAIFA, subsidies are being provided to tobacco farmers in countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania among others while it is a source of livelihood for 4.6 crore Indians.  According to Tobacco Institute of India, tobacco is an extremely important commercial crop for India as it contributes more than Rs 30,000 crore in tax revenue annually besides earning about Rs 6,000 crore in foreign exchange.