The Sunday Leader

Jaffna tobacco industry collapses

By Ashanthi Warunasuriya


Jaffna tobacco farmers insist that they will not grow tobacco after this season since their tobacco cultivations are undergoing unprecedented obstacles and barriers.

Therefore, the tobacco cultivation in Jaffna is now rapidly declining dragging down Jaffna farmers with it.

Among the varied cultivations in Jaffna, growing tobacco provides Jaffna farmers with good revenue. However, the present dire situation of the tobacco cultivation seems to be taking a toll in the farmers.

During the 2017 season, a leaf of tobacco was sold at Rs. 180 but the wholesale price of a leaf this year has gone down even below Rs. 125, tobacco farmers lament.

Tobacco farming is hard. It takes much time to grow tobacco and no one can grow tobacco by sitting in armchairs. It is more profitable to produce ‘Pani Dumkola’ than cultivating tobacco. Pani Dumkola is produced by fermenting cut tobacco leaves in treacle. Jaffna farmers put great efforts in producing Pani Dumkola. While drying tobacco for the process, many a time hearths are caught in fire and a fire destroys over 3,000 kg of tobacco, the farmers pointed out.

They complain that it is futile to grow tobacco undergoing heavy difficulties if they cannot sell a tobacco leaf at least at Rs. 200. Today they are utterly frustrated and looking for other cultivations instead of engaging in tobacco cultivation.

Against this background, the tobacco cultivation in Jaffna needs the attention of the authorities. The Jaffna farmers said they have brought the matter to the authorities many a time but the issue was not addressed to date.

A main reason for the decline of the Jaffna tobacco cultivation is the tough rules and regulations that the government enforced on tobacco sale. It in turn affects the Jaffna tobacco cultivation. The rules on tobacco cut the revenue of its farmers. From seeking tobacco seeds to selling of their products, the tobacco farmers have to surrender to the numerous rules enforced by the government, the Jaffna farmers point out.

Fast declining revenue of the Jaffna tobacco farmers has destroyed their lives. Rarely a person in Jaffna buys a leaf of tobacco now. Therefore, Jaffna tobacco farmers hardly find a buyer for their produce in the north. They do not have an alternative and await a solution from the relevant authorities. But when the Government is in a heavy battle against the tobacco industry, the Jaffna tobacco farmers in their thousands have become its victims.

1 Comment for “Jaffna tobacco industry collapses”

  1. Naga Ramalingam

    Once Jaffna tobacco farming and Cigar industry thrived, and cigar merchants in the Island made good money while smoking killed many lives. Tobacco is not an essential commodity. It is now widely known that smoking is the cause of heart disease, stroke, lung disease and various cancers. Government is right in controlling the sale of tobacco products; many developed countries have tough laws on smoking. Jaffna farmers should use their know-how and hard work to grow essential food items instead of tobacco. Government could then provide them with incentives.

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