Tobacco farmers want rescue from oppression

Tobacco plantation/Photo courtesy

Tobacco farmers in Malakisi and Teso North have accused Mastermind and British American Tobacco (BAT) for oppressing farmers.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, the farmers urged Busia and Bungoma county governments to rescue them from the suffering these companies are putting them through.

One of the farmers revealed that these companies have not paid them for a long term, making them unable to meet their needs

“We have been farming for so many years but we still lead miserable lives because these companies don’t pay us our money yet we invest the little we have in tobacco farming with hopes that it will change our economic lives,” he explained.

According to Juma, farmers are mistreated because there is no contract between these two companies and farmers and the companies always make payments at their convenience.

They requested the county governments through the ministry of Agriculture to intervene and ensure that farmers sign contracts with these companies to avoid similar cases in future.

On his part, Nelson Wekesa urged residents to abandon the crop so that they start farming other crops such as rice so that they can benefit from farming equipment purchased by the jua kali sector.

“The government brought us tools worth 17 million here in Malakisi. We can invest in other crops such as rice and soya beans which I believe with the help of these equipment can really benefit farmers,” said Mr. Wekesa

The crop has been around as a commodity for trade as early as 3500 BC. Its leaves were believed to have medicinal value and was used by herbalists to treat toothaches as well as snake and insect bites.

Many years down the line, tobacco farming and use of its commercial products has become a matter of great concern for a variety of reasons, and most of tobacco farmers in the region are living in abject poverty.