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African Farmers United in Opposition to Proposals Threatening Jobs, Economies

By International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA)
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LUSAKA, Zambia, May 30, 2012/PRNewswire via African Press Organization (APO)/ -- African tobacco farmers from a cross-section of countries concluded the two-day International Tobacco Growers Association Africa Regional Meeting today by issuing a declaration of opposition to the proposals that threaten the region's jobs and local economies.

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The declaration from agricultural leaders from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe came in response to draft proposals from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC recommends, among other things, that governments phase out tobacco farming by limiting the land where it can be grown and endorsing the dismantling of all bodies relating governments with growers-such as the tobacco boards-thus puttingfarmers' livelihoodsat risk while failing to offer an economically viable alternative crop.

Antonio Abrunhosa, chief executive officer of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA), who addressed the regional meeting today, said at the close of the conference,"There's now a unified voice throughout Southern and EastAfrica that's determined to protect the land, the jobs, and the communities sustained by tobacco farming." The ITGArepresents more than 30 million tobacco farmers around the world.

African tobacco farmers provide a stable living for millions of people throughout the region and their crops are a vital source of foreign revenue for many of these countries. For example, in Malawi 7 out of 10 workers are either directly or indirectly employed by the sector and tobacco represents 70% of its foreign exchange earnings and 15% of total GDP.

Francois van der Merwe, chairman of ITGA Africa Region, said the unified voice of these farmers affirms the defence of their right to grow tobacco and the crucial role it plays in the region's economy. "These farmers are prepared to stand up to this 21st century imperialism from a body comprising mainly health officials who are out of touch with the farming sector and who are putting our economy at risk."

Jorge Nestor, the Argentinean President of ITGA reaffirmed the unshakeable support of tobacco growers from all over the world to the Africans growers and their unanimous decision to defend the right to produce the crop that better assures their economic prosperity. - Please visit the ITGA website for the full Declaration.

The ITGA is a non-profit organization that works to advance the cause of millions of tobacco farmers to the world. It strives to provide a strong collective voice on an international and national scale in order to ensure the long-term security of tobacco farming communities.

Photo: Source: International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA)

For more information please contact: Don Paul, ReadDillon, [email protected] ; +27-21-421-00-11, +27-83-325-10-52