Farmers’ federation seeks price parity between cigarettes and other tobacco products – The New Indian Express

Through PTI

NEW DELHI: Farmers’ body FAIFA on Thursday urged the government to achieve price parity between cigarettes and other forms of tobacco to control the illicit cigarette market, which has affected the livelihoods of tobacco farmers.

The All India Federation of Farmers Associations (FAIFA), which claims to represent commercial farmers and agricultural workers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat, said the consumer price of legal cigarettes in India had reached “the upper limit of what consumers can afford in a context of cheaper and rapidly growing illicit cigarettes and alternatives”.

“Any further tax increases would result in a sharp reduction in the cultivation of FCV (Air Cured Virginia Tobacco) and impact farmers’ livelihoods,” it said in a statement.

The above situation is stressing the farming community as consumers turn to contraband cigarettes that do not use household tobacco, FAIFA Vice President Gadde Seshagiri Rao said.

“Since India is hugely and largely dependent on tobacco cultivation for its livelihood, the government must act sensibly and responsibly to achieve price parity between cigarettes and other forms of tobacco in order to control the illicit market cigarettes that has grown exponentially at the expense of legal cigarettes undermining the interests of tobacco growers and the government’s tobacco control goals,” Rao added.

READ ALSO | Tax tobacco heavily, young people tell PM Modi, FM Sitharaman

Citing data from Euromonitor International, FAIFA said volumes of illicit cigarettes in India have seen a 44% increase in a decade, from 19.5 billion sticks in 2011 to 28.1 billion sticks in 2020. This increases the market share of illicit cigarettes in the country from 21.3% in 2015 to 27.6% in 2020.

“This increase resulted in a reduction in the size of FCV crops by 39%, from 316 million kg per year to 194 million kg per year between 2013-14 and 2021-22.

“The area under FCV in India has also witnessed a huge decline from 2,21,385 hectares in 2013-2014 to 1,22,257 hectares in 2020-21, resulting in a loss of employment of 35 million man-days,” FAIFA said.

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