烟草委员会主席巴布（J Suresh Babu）对《经济时报》说：“为了达到我们减少烟草种植的使命，我们决定在安得拉邦和卡纳塔克邦指定的两个村子里试验恢复项目。如果此措施成功，我们将扩大范围，扩大到其他村子中。”
Rs 5k-crore fund to help farmers quit tobacco
Economictimes - Aug 27 2008 10:48PM GMT
NEW DELHI: The government has set up a Rs 5,000-crore fund to finance tobacco farmers diversifying into other crops such as oilseeds, soyabean and chillies. The fund would be used to provide Rs 5 lakh per farm to gradually phase out tobacco cultivation. The move follows the government's plan to halve tobacco production by 2015.
Labourers employed in tobacco production will also be given financial support for rehabilitation. Kovur (Andhra Pradesh) and Shimoga (Karnataka) are the two villages identified by the government to kickstart the rehab programme.
According to industry experts, the move to bring down tobacco production by a significant chunk would have a bearing on revenues of tobacco companies. The government aims to target at least seven million tobacco growers in the country to move away from the crop.
Tobacco Board chairman J Suresh Babu told ET, "To achieve our mission of bringing down tobacco cultivation, we have decided to try the rehabilitation package in two villages identified in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The success of the move would broadbase our coverage as we move to other villages."
While the finance ministry has agreed to the board's proposal of funding tobacco farmers for crop diversification, it has turned down the proposal of levying 5 paise cess per cigarette. The cess was aimed at mopping up funds for tobacco farmers' rehabilitation.
The tobacco industry employs 10 million people. India ranks among the top five countries in both production and consumption of tobacco and tobacco products. According to health ministry estimates, one million people die every year in the country due to tobacco-related diseases. The total economic cost of diseases related to tobacco use in the country was Rs 30,800 crore in 2002-03.
The officials said the country's action is in line with methods adopted by Brazil and the US to control tobacco production. The government is of the view that farmers could earn similar returns from alternative crops over a period of time.
The industry feels it would take years to implement the programme to cut tobacco production, and import is always an option. However, the industry may have to pay a higher price for tobacco once the phaseout begins. Around 1.5 million kg of tobacco is auctioned to companies every year. At present, ITC, with 65% market share, does not import tobacco. Same is the case with the second-largest player, Godfrey Phillips.