Last year Brazil signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the government has now announced a program to assist tobacco farmers diversify. The program will be launched in the state of Rio Grande do Sul this week.
According to Brazilian Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, it is necessary to diversify for many reasons. One is that diversification can mean more income for the farmer, he explained.
Rossetto said the government will assist in crop diversification with financing. technical assistance, research and commercialization.
According to the local delegate of the Ministry of Agrarian Development in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s biggest tobacco-growing state, although the government joined the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, farmers who want to continue growing tobacco can do so. The convention was signed for public health reasons, not to pressure farmers, explains Nilton De Bem.
"There are not going to be any sanctions or retaliations. We want to strengthen small farms through diversification. We will provide small farmers with alternatives to tobacco," said De Bem, as he explained the government’s crop diversification plan to local farmers.
De Bem explained that the government can offer low-interest loans, as part of the Family Farm Program (Programa Nacional de Fortalecimento da Agricultura Familiar) (Pronaf).
He also said there would be technical assistance, as well, so farmers could move into poultry, vegetables or even the biodiesel program (where an additive made from the castor-oil plant is added to diesel fuel).