The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) on Friday voiced concern at the excise duty hike on cigarettes in the Union Budget, which it termed a blow to Indian tobacco growers.
FAIFA, representing millions of farmers and farm workers of commercial crops across India, said it is extremely concerned that the Union Budget 2017-18 has once again increased the excise duty on cigarettes.
"The increase in duty rates will lead to further drop in farm earnings as illegal cigarettes will continue to increase and cause a further drop in the off take of domestic tobacco grown by Indian farmers," said a statement issued by FAIFA.
Appreciating the government's focus on agricultural growth seeking doubling of farmer incomes, FAIFA said the plight of tobacco farmers whose earnings have reduced sharply in the recent years has been completely neglected.
"The duty increase announced in the 2017 Budget is a blow to the livelihood of FCV (cigarette) tobacco farmers, who have been facing unprecedented hardships due to sharp drop in demand for their produce. The resulting loss in earnings of farmers and the acute financial distress faced by them has even led to unfortunate cases of suicides by farmers in the tobacco growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka last year," said the statement quoting Murali Babu, General Secretary, FAIFA.
FAIFA appeals to the government to take appropriate measures to protect the livelihood and earnings of farmers in the country so that unfortunate incidents of farmer suicides are not repeated in future.