Sri Lanka should follow evidence-based policies on tobacco cultivation: report
ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lankan legislators must pursue evidence-based policies on tobacco cultivation, a consultancy firm said in a report handed over to the Agriculture Ministry.
The report identifies perceived impacts from the government’s decision to ban local tobacco cultivation by 2020.
“What is needed is evidence-based policy making. A proper research is needed to understand and quantify possible impacts,” Green Space Consultancies said in the report.
The government’s level of communication about the ban was also found to be low.
“It was noticed that these farmers have not seriously thought about any alternatives and are not quite sure about the certainty of the proposed ban – largely due to the indirect messages they receive through media only, rather than hearing something concrete from the policy makers,” it said.
The report said that farmers are unsure on the best alternatives once the ban comes into effect and who should lead in implementing them.
“Farmers talked about crop diversification, however they are not sure what market mechanisms are in place to make sure that they are not worse off by adopting those diversifications.”
“Farmers who grow tobacco for cigarette manufacturing are used to forward contracts with guaranteed prices and a market place; therefore, they expect a value chain that provides them the same conditions.”
The report said that farmers believe that the government should support them in identifying the best alternative.
Green Space Consultancies also raised concerns over the government only restricting the supply side of tobacco farming, and called for a feasibility study to determine whether restricting the supply of local tobacco would have an effect on demand.
“If the purpose of the cultivation ban is to reduce the consumption of these products for health reasons, then policy makers either can implement a policy to reduce the demand or supply of raw materials or do both. The proposed tobacco growing ban only looks at restricting the supply side,” the report said. (COLOMBO, 24 July, 2018)