In spite of the ban on cigarette smoking in public places and the various advise given to people to stop smoking, the sales value of tobacco from over 850 tobacco farmers increased from N600 million in 2012 to N680 million in 2013, an increase of N80million.
The farmers operating under the umbrella of Nigeria Independent Tobacco Association (NITA) also increased tobacco production from 1,260 tonnes to over 2,500 tonnes in 2013.
The Area Operations Director of British American Tobacco (BAT) Francisco Toso, disclosed this at the 2014 BAT Nigeria/British American Tobacco Iseyin Agronomy(BATIA) farmers’ productivity awards ceremony in Iseyin,Oyo State said the company will continue to work with farmers ,the Nigerian government and other agricultural development focused organizations to ensure the agricultural sector regains remains a priority sector in Nigeria’s economy.
Tobacco farming is directly supporting more than 20,000 farming families and the farmers are well trained.
In his address, Freddy Massanvi, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director, BAT said responsible farming practices is usually a challenge faced in agriculture globally and in Nigeria saying “we are no different.”
According to Massanvi, with BAT and the contracted tobacco farmers, the collaboration has proved that this can be achieved with continuous engagement.
“This was clearly demonstrated again recently when BAT in partnership with a Non Governmental 0rganisation(NGO),the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity and Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development embarked on a series of elimination of child labour workshops with the farmers in which they requested that workshops be spread to other non-tobacco farmers”.
Chairman, Nigerian Independent Tobacco Association(NITA), Rasheed Bakare lauded the company for organising the awards and pledged continuous support of the farmers. He also revealed that by participating in tobacco farming, amenities such as water boreholes had been provided for the area while there is now an established undergraduate scholarship scheme for farmers children.
The Farmers Productivity Award Ceremony is organized yearly to improve the farmers’ productivity in terms of quality and volume of yield, as well as encourage their adherence to principles of environmental protection is also the sustainability of the company.
Adapted from Business Day 14/3/2014