NGO News Report :: The lands in Bandarban district were once used for food crop cultivation but now the scenario has been altered with the difference of a couple of years for the extensive farming of tobacco on the same lands that has grabbed about 60 per cent of the entire farmlands with the direct inspiration and indirect association of national and multinational tobacco companies in the district, reads a report on the Daily Bhorer Kagoj on December 27, 2014 by Tutul Rahman, an ATMA Member.
Consequently, the lands are losing fertility and people of all classes are under severe health threat and about 50, 000 acres of the croplands in Bandarban are now under tobacco cultivation, and thousands of acres have been destroyed so far to grow the toxic plants, according to the report.
The report also narrates that the farmers of the district said that tobacco farming inputs like seeds and seedbeds, fertilizers, insecticides and other necessary materials etc. are easily available from tobacco companies whereas all such facilities are difficult to arrange for food crops cultivation. Even they also get advance and flexible loans from the tobacco companies to grow tobacco on the lands and need not to worry about the price and selling of the produced. Regarding food crops, they are to experience total loss in as there is no buyer of the crops, no preservation facilities for the crops and at times they are to sell the produced at very a lower price, following the report. Due to food crops’ shortage, the local inhabitants are to buy them at a higher price in the current season where it was supposed to be grown in plenty on the district’s lands.
Farmers, following the report, said that earlier they had tried to get facilities from the government in food crop cultivation, but did not get any, and thus the tobacco companies are exploiting their poverty- compelling them into tobacco farming with different allurement and attractive facilities. Shockingly, the tobacco companies have grabbed about 300 acres of reserved forest to grow tobacco in Bandarban district. On the other hand, in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the tobacco companies are assisting the farmers into tobacco production. Under its project ‘Deepto’, British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) has supplied solar energy and pure drinking water facilities to tobacco farmers in four villages in Bandarban and Khagrachharhi districts, points the report.
The issue of tobacco farming expansion is horrible, believes Dr. Asaduzzaman of BIDS and opined that if such expansion continues, it will create a food shortage in the district soon.
PROGGA, a private research organization believes that tobacco companies are entrapping the farmers with loan and other facilities and they (farmers) are also growing the toxic plant for a temporary profit, mentions the report. An effective tobacco farming policy with a provision to regulate tobacco companies ill tactics is a must to control the situation, according to PROGGA and the organization urges the government to formulate necessary Policy and implement them to control the tobacco farming.
For the detail report, see the following link: