August 2023 – With the theme tobacco is agro: the expectation for COP 10, the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco), attended this Wednesday, August 30, the session ‘Crop Field in Discussion’, at RBS TV House, during the program of the 46th Expointer, in Esteio (RS). The event was broadcast live through channel GZH, on Youtube and was mediated by journalist Gisele Loeblein.
She started the debate presenting the numbers of the tobacco crop in Rio Grande do Sul, and was followed by the participation of the president of the Tobacco Growers’ Association of Brazil (Afubra), Marcilio Drescher. “There are nearly 600 thousand people who derive their livelihood directly from tobacco. On average, the income from tobacco corresponds to 51%, and is complemented by crop diversification. The rural holdings consist of 105 hectares, on average. On these small stretches of land, the farmers support their families and normally devote only 3.29 hectares to tobacco. Small areas with tobacco provide for excellent income, along with diversification. In the past growing season, gross income earned by the farmers amounted to R$ 88 thousand per capita and per family, on average, not to mention the income derived from diversification”, he stressed.
Diversification is one of the themes that was widely discussed by the countries that signed the treaty of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), of the World Health Organization (WHO). But how can we debate on farmers’ diversification initiatives without involving the main players of this question? The lack of transparency and the refusal in including the supply chain in the debates was one of the focal points in the debate about the participation of Brazil, in the month of November, in the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) of the FCTC. Iro Schünke, president of the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco) spoke about the concerns of the sector relative to the event. In his view, the absence of representatives of the supply chain in the debates is a very emblematic symbol.
“It is highly regrettable that not even the representatives of the supply chain are allowed to attend the sessions. The lack of transparency and the total absence of dialogue between the parties make events unilateral and, therefore, totally dictatorial”, Schünke comments. The president of the SindiTabaco also stressed that the countries are self-sufficient to adopt the recommendations coming from any COP. “Brazil, however, has over the past years shown to be a protagonist in adopting these measures, which is paradoxical considering that we have been the top global leaf exporter over the past 30 years, and the second-largest producer of tobacco, coming only after China”, he insisted.
Ernani Polo, secretary of Economic Development and State Government representative commented: “Tobacco has surely contributed a lot towards the municipalities where it is produced, as well as to the trade balance of the State, due to the volumes annually exported. There is need for the deputies and representations to show their stances, and the government of Rio Grande do Sul will be with them and defend them, showing solidarity with the farmers who cultivate a quality crop, based on technology, sustainability and diversification. We know that a lot of work is carried out by the industries of the sector with the aim to diversify, but even so, it is tobacco that keeps the farmers in the countryside”, Polo emphasized.
Other participants of the event include the president of the Association of Tobacco Growing Municipalities (AmproTabaco), Vinicius Pegoraro; the execuive manager of the Brazilian Tobacco Industry Association (Abifumo), Giuseppe Lobo; and the president of the Tobacco Industry Workers’ Association (Fentifumo) and the president of the Tobacco and Foodstuffs Industry Workers Union of Santa Cruz do Sul and Region (STIFA), Gualter Batista Júnior.
Federal deputies Alceu Moreira, Heitor Schuch and Marcelo Moraes, along with state deputies Airton Artus, Edivilson Brum, Elton Weber, Kelly Moraes and Marcus Vinicius brought their contributions and concerns to the debate. And the same holds true for senator Luiz Carlos Heinze, from Rio Grande do Sul and federal deputies Pedro Lupion (PR) and Rafael Pezenti (SC), who participated with statements through video conferencing.
TOBACCO IN RIO GRANDE DO SUL – Tobacco is produced in 192 municipalities across Rio Grande do Sul. In the past growing season, approximately 65 thousand farmers produced around 300 thousand tons, which correspond to half of what is produced in the entire Country. In the countryside, the production involves around 290 thousand people. In terms of revenue, tobacco generated R$ 5 billion to the farmers in Rio Grande do Sul, besides 25 thousand jobs generated by the industry in the State. Approximately 80% of leaf exports from the South Region of Brazil are through the Port of Rio Grande, bringing in revenue of US$ 2 billion a year.
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