Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 5

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56 tobaccoasia / Issue 5, 2016 November / December By Thomas Schmid Integrated planting of tobacco with other crops Tobacco opponents frequently rile, huff, and puff at the mere mentioning of the phrase "sustainable tobacco farming". They claim that it's not much more than a hypocritical excuse concocted by to- bacco merchants to justify the continued cultiva- tion and trading of what critics label a "danger- ous product". But in fact the majority of tobacco merchants actually take the subject quite seriously. To them, sustainability is an important factor that runs through the entire supply chain and consider- ably contributes to their business success. "Sustainability is part of the Alliance One cul- ture," said Jose Maria Costa, executive vice presi- dent of global operations and supply chains at Al- liance One International (AOI), one of the world's largest leaf merchants active in practically all grow- ing regions except the Caribbean. "Not only is it the right thing to do, it is [also] something that we must do in order to be successful – just like [with] any other agricultural commodity". The three foundation pillars To accommodate this high concept, sustainability must begin at the grassroots level of the supply chain, the tobacco farmer. To develop an effec- tive – and sensible – tobacco farming sustainabil- ity program, the industry adheres to the so-called "three pillars of sustainable tobacco production": the people, the environment, the crop. "These three pillars encompass particular areas of focus, for example, agricultural labor practices including child labor and forced labor, health and safety and workers' rights, environmental aware- ness including soil and biodiversity preservation and erosion prevention, reforestation and natural regeneration, as well as crop integrity and manage- ment, among others," explained Dr. Ian Duve- nage, head of sustainable agriculture at Germany- based Contraf-Nicotex-Tobacco GmbH (CNT). Sustainable farming is today practiced with many agricultural commodities including tobacco. Tobac- co Asia has inquired with international tobacco traders where sustainability measures are warranted, how they're comprised, and what it takes to implement them. Sustainable Tobacco Farming: Not Just a Buzz Word

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