The reality of tobacco farmers exploitation in a region in Nigeria
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University of Ibadan, Community Medicine, Nigeria
ERA/FoEN, Nigeria
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A394
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In recent times, the production of tobacco leaves has shifted from high-income countries to developing countries, especially those in Africa. In these countries, the governments support tobacco farming as a method of poverty alleviation. In addition, the Tobacco Industry (TI) actively promotes the alleged benefits of tobacco farming to the farmers and country, and these supposed benefits have been used to obstruct tobacco control policies. There is limited data regarding effects of tobacco farming from the view point of the growers themselves. This study set out to document the experience of tobacco farmers regarding the processes and profit gained through tobacco farming.

A cross sectional study using qualitative method of enquiry was carried out. Two agrarian communities with huge acreage ownership by the British American Tobacco Company Nigeria for tobacco farming were purposively selected for the study. Key informant interviews were conducted among the farmers and data obtained were transcribed and analysed though thematic analysis.

Findings from the study show that although the tobacco farmers received support from the Industry to grow tobacco, they were often forced to sell their products with minimal margins of profit to the tobacco companies since it cannot be sold on open markets in Nigeria. Furthermore, there is a market monopoly as only one company buys the produce further reducing their bargaining power. Furthermore, the labour intensive nature of the tobacco farming process necessitates recruitment and of their children and other family members leading to hazardous exposure.

This study provides evidence which refutes claim by the Tobacco Industry about promises of prosperity to all involved in tobacco cultivation. Interactions with the farmers, did not indicate that tobacco farmers were wealthier than the non-tobacco farmers. This information will assist the drive for tobacco control policies.