Iro Schünke, president of the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco)
In times of fake news and shallow opinions, information is a powerful weapon. Going deep into a certain problem before expressing an opinion seems ethical and moral but in practice this is not what happens. Ideology, in many areas, leaves no room for reason. I suggest an exercise: do you know the tobacco sector? You may have heard about it, but before forming an opinion, allow me to present some facts.
A survey conducted by the UFRGS, in 2016, pointed out that while 80% of the tobacco growers fit into classes A and B, for the average Brazilian it is barely 22%. There is more, the monthly per capita income of the tobacco farmers is R$ 1,926.73, well above the per capita income in Brazil, R$ 1,113 (IBGE, 2015). It attests to the good socioeconomic standard of the tobacco farmers, as well as the high degree of satisfaction in the sector (90%).
Brazil is the second largest producer and is the global leader in leaf exports for 25 years now. Rio Grande do Sul is responsible for 50% of the tobacco produced in Brazil, and it represents 10% of the State’s total annual shipments. Our integrated Production System turns 100 in 2018 and excels in product quality and integrity, along with technical assistance and guaranteed purchase, besides a competitive differential: sustainable production. We have set an example for agribusiness, and perform an important socioeconomic role for the people in the State and the Country.
We were pioneers in the preservation of the Atlantic Forest through an unprecedented agreement signed with the Ibama. Pioneers in the fight against child labor and in alternatives for the young in the rural setting, through the Growing Up Right Institute. Pioneers in implementing farmers’ health and safety standards by means of special clothing for harvesting tobacco and an itinerant empty pesticide packaging collection service. By the way, Brazilian tobacco is the commercial crop that uses the least amount of pesticides. It is not my conclusion, but it comes from research carried out by ESALQ/USP and by UNICA, based on data from SINDAG and IBGE.
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