Kenyan farmers condemn WHO’s plan to threaten 30-million jobs
Kenya Tobacco Farmers’ Association joins global campaign to oppose restrictive measures
Thursday 13 September 2012, Nairobi, Kenya—The Kenya Tobacco Farmers’ Association (KETOFA) representing 30,000 tobacco farmers, reacted to the publication of new proposals to regulate tobacco farming by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and vowed to rally the government to oppose the measures.
CEO of the Kenya Tobacco Farmers’ Association (KETOFA) Joseph Wanguhu said the proposals would have disastrous consequences if they went through. “By suggesting governments phase out tobacco growing, these ideological recommendations put the jobs of more than 30-million farmers — including 30,000 in Kenya — at risk without providing them with any economically viable alternative crops,” he said. “The tobacco sector also depends on other actors within the value chain so many more people will be negatively affected in a country where unemployment is already high. The WHO has consistently refused to listen to tobacco growers in drafting proposals that directly impact, not only Kenya’s farmers, but also the whole value chain. By doing so, they act like a blind man driving a steamroller without paying any attention to the consequences of their folly.”
The current proposals  go far beyond the FCTC’s original mandate . They are designed to force tobacco growers out of business by creating artificial restrictions on tobacco supply while failing to address the growing demand for the crop. This is being done through recommendations that seek to:
· Ban minimum support prices and leaf auctions.
· Restrict production by regulating the seasons in which tobacco may be grown.
· Reduce the area allocated for tobacco farming.
· Ban financial or technical support for tobacco farmers.
· Dismantle all bodies connecting tobacco growers with governments.
“Now is the time for governments to act and oppose these draconian measures,” Wanguhu said. To rally governments worldwide in opposition to the measures, KETOFA has joined the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) in launching a global petition online and through the growers’ associations. The petition calls on government leaders in Kenya to “reject irrational and destructive proposals in favour of a more realistic approach that will help tobacco farmers adapt if and when the demand for tobacco evolves”.
The petition is available online at http://protectfarmers.tobaccoleaf.org/join-our-fight.aspx