Thursday May 29 2014

Farmers ask Parliament to review tobacco Bill

A tobacco farmer weeds his garden in Hoima.

A tobacco farmer weeds his garden in Hoima. Farmers want Parliament not to pass the Tobacco Control Bill 2014 in its current form. PHOTO by Francis Mugerwa. 

By Francis Mugerwa

Farmers from the Bunyoro sub-region and parts of Buganda have petitioned Parliament to review the Tobacco Control Bill 2014.
Over 10,000 farmers claim the Bill, if passed in its current form, will wipe out tobacco growing in the country.

Farmers from Hoima, Masindi, Kibaale, Kiboga, Buliisa, Kyankwanzi, Mubende and Kiryandongo districts told MPs on the Parliamentary Committee on Health who had visited the region recently.

Led by Mr Jesse Kasaija, the Bunyoro Mubende Tobacco Farmers Association, farmers handed Dr Kenneth Omona, the committee chairman, a petition seeking to review some sections of the Tobacco Control Bill 2014.
The MPs were on a fact finding mission in the region to assess the impact of the Bill that has caused some anxiety among tobacco companies and farmers.

Farmers, according to the petition want Parliament to review clause 49 that puts tough restrictions on the consumption, sale and marketing of tobacco products.

“The law does not provide us [farmers] with any alternative, but instead seeks to ban tobacco farming through frustrating farmers. We appeal to you [Parliament] to delete some clauses from the Bill that are disastrous to a crop that provides many of us with a livelihood,” farmers said in a three-page petition.

The Tobacco Control Bill, sponsored by Kinkizi East MP Chris Baryomunsi, is a private member’s Bill that seeks to control the consumption, sale and marketing of tobacco product in Uganda.

The farmers, who accused Parliament of attempting to pass the Bill without adequately consulting them, oppose repealing of the Tobacco Control and Marketing Act that currently guides the sale, consumption and sale of tobacco products in Uganda.

tough bill
There are more than five tobacco companies in Uganda employing at least 60,000 farmers. There has been growing concern among tobacco farmers and companies after Kinkizi East MP Chris Baryomunsi sponsored a Bill, that contains tough regulations against use of tobacco.