The anti-tobacco forum (ATF) here has claimed significant success in weaning away a large number of farmers from tobacco cultivation. A majority of them have opted for horticultural crops. Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, convener of the forum, has said efforts to dissuade the farming community from tobacco cultivation were bearing fruit.
After interaction with farmers, the Horticulture Department and the ATF have indicated that 72 farmers in Nanjangud taluk have quit tobacco cultivation, while 50 each in Mysore and Hunsur taluk have opted for horticultural crops. Similarly, 36 farmers in T. Narsipura, 62 in H.D. Kote and 72 famers in K.R. Nagar have quit tobacco cultivation, said Mr. Mysoremath.
At the Mysore Dasara Exhibition, a kiosk was put up to counsel farmers on alternative crops to cultivate. Mr. Mysoremath said it was clear from interactions that there was a perceptible shift in their thought process to adapt themselves to the tobacco eradication scenario across the world.
“But they want encouragement from the government in the form of incentives and a plan of action for sustainable alternative crop farming practices, with timely inputs like soil testing, research facility, seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, water supply system, farming equipment and implements for shifting over to alternate crops,” Mr. Mysoremath said.
Their other concerns pertained to sustainable marketing facilities and support price for their produces to sustain their families. “This is a positive and serious response by tobacco farmers and the government has to come up with attractive plans so that money being spent on providing health facilities to people, like cancer patients, can be saved,” said Mr. Mysoremath. Mysore district is among the leading tobacco cultivating regions in the country and Hunsur and Periyapatana, along with parts of H.D. Kote and Nanjangud, cultivate the Flue-cured Virginia variety of tobacco, which has a high demand. But activists are calling for a phasing out of the crop as the social and economic costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses surpass the revenue earned by the government in tobacco sales.