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UP Tobacco Farmers Look For Support To Shift To Alternative Crops

March 16, 2020

With tobacco cultivation on the decline, farmers in Uttar Pradesh are willing to shift to alternative crops if suitable institutional support is available to them.

Tobacco cultivation in Uttar Pradesh has declined from 1,15,000 hectares in 2000-01 to 23,000 hectares in 2017-18, said Giri Institute of Development Studies (GIDS), Lucknow, in its study ‘Economics of Tobacco Farming in India’, conducted in collaboration with Centre for Multi Disciplinary Research (CMDR), Dharwad (Karnataka).

This report is based on key studies carried out in 10 major states growing tobacco, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

The report says that tobacco farmers are willing to shift to other crop if suitable alternatives are made available. Their willingness to shift is conditional in most of the states, subject to institutional support in terms of subsidised inputs, technical know-how on alternate crops and guaranteed crop loan.

According to Prof Fahimuddin S of GIDS, Lucknow, tobacco cultivation has declined in UP due to low price of tobacco, tobacco crop disease and awareness of health hazards of tobacco use. The prices have been quite low and farmers are forced to sell tobacco at 50 per cent less price due to low demand, thus leading to low net returns from tobacco cultivation.

“Many farmers in Uttar Pradesh, who were growing chewing and hookah tobacco, have shifted to growing mustard, cotton, cauliflower, tomato, pea, potato and maize. Other farmers are also willing to leave tobacco cultivation if support for alternative cash crop is made available to them,” he said.

Dr AK Mishra, district programme coordinator, (Etah) diversified agricultural support project, said that farmers were eager to grow medicinal plants and flowers but needed government support.

Lessons can be learnt from states like Kerala, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and North Eastern, where tobacco cultivation has reduced or stopped completely. Diversification of crops in tobacco growing fields of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat needs to be closely observed and analysed, the report said.

The officials in Uttar Pradesh, UP Diversified Agricultural Support Project (UPDASP) say if the success of the programme is sustained, cultivation of tobacco can be totally replaced with alternate crops within next five years.

Source: The Pioneer