The Economics of Tobacco Farming in Kenya – Report by IILA and ACS

/, IILA Publications, Tobacco Control/The Economics of Tobacco Farming in Kenya – Report by IILA and ACS

The Economics of Tobacco Farming in Kenya – Report by IILA and ACS

The report by the International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IILA) and The American Cancer Society (ACS)  titled “The Economics of Tobacco Farming in Kenya, was officially launched yersterday (May 19th, 2016) at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi.

The launch brought together all major stakeholders in Tobacco Control in Kenya.

Executive Summary

Tobacco use continues to be one of the most significant preventable risk factors to most non-communicable diseases. Put simply, tobacco kills millions of people prematurely each year and these numbers are increasing particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Thus, decreasing tobacco use should be at the core of all governments’ public health strategies.  Yet, tobacco control continues to face dogged, well-organized and well-financed opposition.

The opposition to tobacco control often comes in the form of supposed economic logic.  In particular, opponents of tobacco control all over the world continue to use the alleged harm of tobacco control policies to smallholder tobacco farmers as a reason to curtail these public health efforts.  Moving beyond the well established dynamic that it is global markets driving demand for any one country’s tobacco leaf – tobacco control in Kenya will have little or no short-run effect on its tobacco farmers – it has not been made sufficiently clear if tobacco farming is even an economic livelihood worth pursuing for Kenyan farmers.  In this report, we tackle this knowledge gap by reporting the results of and analysing a nationally-representative individual-level, economic survey of nearly 600 Kenyan smallholder tobacco farmers.

The results of this rigorous survey demonstrate that the livelihoods of most smallholder tobacco farmers are rarely financially lucrative.  In fact, the results suggest strongly that many tobacco farmers are making only minimal profits when the principal (non-labour) inputs are subtracted from the sales of their tobacco leaf.  Moreover, tobacco growing is one of the most labour-intensive crops and if you include even a conservative estimate of the cost of the farming household’s labour, a significant proportion of tobacco farmers are operating at a net financial loss.  Put simply, many Kenyan tobacco farmers would likely improve their livelihoods by pursuing other economic activities.

Kenya is a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which compels parties to help tobacco farmers find viable alternative livelihoods (Article 17).  This research demonstrates that many farmers are unhappy with growing tobacco and open to switching to alternatives.  It also suggests that improved access to credit and better supply chains for alternative products could serve Kenyan tobacco farmers particularly well as they seek to switch away from tobacco. As well, the government should consider playing a more active role monitoring the tobacco companies that grade and price the tobacco, oftentimes within the constraints of contracts that appear to strongly favour the tobacco leaf buying companies over the farmers.

More work still remains to be done especially in eliminating adverse contracts that are exploitative. The ACS will conduct a second study within one year and the inputs from the participants will be included in the revised version of the study
Dr. Jeffrey Drope, Co-Author, American Cancer Society
The study builds from previous work in tobacco control and the ultimate goal is for it to influence policy that will improve the livelihoods of farmers especially in addressing inequality and exploitation
Peter Magati
Tobacco Control should be looked at and framed as a development issue with focus being put towards supporting tobacco farmers to diversify and seek alternative livelihoods away from tobacco farming
Dr. Samuel Ochola, Tobacco Control Expert
There is need for multisectoral approach within and outside government towards Tobacco Control
Dorcas Kiptui, Ministry of Health
The study gives factual basis for pushing for policy alternatives in tobacco control and is in line with IILA’s evidence based approach to programming where research findings informs decision making.
Emma Wanyonyi, IILA C.E.O
Full report in PDF
By | 2018-03-16T16:03:22+00:00 May 20th, 2016|Agriculture, IILA Publications, Tobacco Control|0 Comments

About the Author:

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.