New Delhi: Tobacco farmers' body Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) today hit out at the government's order for larger pictorial warning on tobacco products saying it has been implemented "without giving a fair chance to the process of legislative review".
Stating that shutting down of cigarette factories have put "extreme stress" on tobacco farmers, FAIFA urged the government to withdraw the order that requires 85 per cent of pictorial warning on packets of tobacco products, while asking the industry to resume production
"The decision of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to implement 85 per cent warnings on tobacco products from April 1, 2016, without giving a fair chance to the process of legislative review to get completed is going to put extreme stress on tobacco farmers who have no other alternative means of livelihood," FAIFA Vice- President G S Rao said in a statement.
FAIFA, which claims to represent two lakh farmers who grow tobacco used for making cigarette besides others who are into plantation of palm oil and chilli, said the continued closure of tobacco products manufacturing is creating panic among the community as Rs 700 crore of bank loans outstanding with farmers are under risk.
"Rs 1,200 crore of unsold tobacco crop lying in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh alone," it said.
According to the association, auction for Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco, a variety used in cigarettes started in early March, 2016 in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, which have started to witness fluctuating the backdrop of closure of manufacturing units.
"This crisis has come at the worst time as this is peak season for tobacco farmers to sell their tobacco crops," FAIFA said, adding demand from international buyers has been extremely poor.
FAIFA President B V Javare Gowda said: "Already the Indian farmer community is facing severe challenges with water crisis, slower demand, expensive credit and the ongoing tobacco industry closure will leave a big financial hole for farmers.
"At this juncture, when we were totally dependent on domestic buyers for selling our produce, a sudden closure of manufacturing has come as a big blow. Farmers will never be able to recover from this loss, unless Government does something urgently."
From April 1, major cigarettes manufactures including ITC, Godfrey Philips and VST have decided to shut their factories and stop manufacturing in the wake of larger pictorial warnings.
Last week, beedi manufacturers across India has also joined them by stopping their production.