Africa today is developing and making tobacco a part of its discussion and is focussing on its economics and cultivation. The tobacco cultivation in Africa is being established and encouraged by multinational firms, especially Rothmans and British American tobacco, avoiding the import duty based on raw materials.
Nigeria has around 60,000 farmers that grow tobacco in a space of 120,000 acres. The three main deleterious effects due to cultivation of tobacco are; the competition in staple food harvest like cassava, millet, guinea corn and rice; the displacement of cash crops like cotton; And timber loss through bush fires and tree felling because of lit cigarette stubs.
In Nigeria’s Sokoto region, more preference is given to tobacco cultivation instead of rice cultivation as it provides them with ready cash; hence the growing of rice becomes a second choice. The result of this displacement of food crops is that, now rice is being imported in Nigeria. As any economist seeking development and welfare would cultivate rice and not tobacco. The forest reserves is also affected as the clearing of bush is taking place, in order to promote tobacco cultivation and making use of the wood fuel when it comes to flue-curing tobacco. Ecological consequences too have become disastrous in bordering areas of the desert. Yet the growth of tobacco, by any means, is not being dismissed. Major reason is the cash returns they gain from tobacco and not food crops.
Today the multinational firms are putting in a lot of effort in teaching their farmers the modern methods for land preparation. This fight against immense cultivation of tobacco can only be won by planned thought and actions. As a matter of fact, the cigarette consumption is highly underestimated in commercial or government statistics, since the smuggling of total cigarettes amounts to 25%.
It is a known fact that growing tobacco needs bigger and more lands which could otherwise serve as a purpose for growing other essential food. Besides that, curing the leaves of tobacco needs great amount of heat, which is formed by burning timber or oil and which results in deforestation, desertification and soil erosion. Although, tobacco is grown as a crop that’s exported, its hazardous health effects cannot be escaped by the country, including its economic consequences like absenteeism from the work or increasing heath care cost.
Africa is a country where the health and smoking issue is quiet complicated as the tobacco here is grown vastly and commercially and happens to rely on bringing foreign exchange through exportation. The ministries of certain nations are working on cross purposes. However, the controlling measures of tobacco cultivation must include these; public information, legislation, education and data collection. Africa does not only involve tobacco in smoking but they snuff and chew it and increases the risks for heart and coronary diseases. Tobacco firms smartly take complete advantage of lack of regulations and legislations regarding the use and promotion of tobacco in Africa.
The question here that now arises is that, if Africa is really moving forward and becoming a developed country or is it just moving forward in a hazardous way.