The tobacco industry has been one of the leaders in promoting good agricultural practice (GAP) and social responsibility, especially as there has been a positive attitude to these matters in the industry in recent years. In successfully carrying out this role, the affluence of the industry has been an important factor. Another has been the good organisations and infrastructure that have been set up, through involvement of all sectors of the industry in many of the principal leaf-producing regions. In addition, these subjects are central to the debates, discussions and decision-making processes in industry bodies such as ITGA and CORESTA.
Hainsi Gralow (Brazil) gave a detailed description of the achievements of the social, environmental, educational and health programmes existing in the tobacco growing regions of Brazil and involving some 153,000 families. The programmes are supported by research carried out by the local University: Profiling the farming population, identifying the areas that need to be addressed and then, subsequently, evaluating the impact of each programme. Implementation, lead by the tobacco growers’ association, involves everyone and is linked to intensive promotional campaigns. The results are impressive and serve as an example for the world-wide industry.
Hal Teegarden (PMI Switzerland) described his Company’s international programme for promoting Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). The programme focuses on responsibility, accountability, sustainability and the expectations of society. It is intended to further ensure that leaf production complies with regulation, is environmentally sustainable and is carried out in a manner that protects the physical well being and socio-economic interest of those involved. The programme is carried out in collaboration with leaf dealers, who interface directly with the growers. It is a dynamic programme, changing in response to new developments in crop production, social issues and leaf requirements.
The objectives and work of the ECLT Foundation was described by its Director, Marc Hofstetter. The foundation was set up by the three founder directors, ITGA, IUF and BAT, who were subsequently joined by other major tobacco manufacturers and leaf dealers. ILO/IPEC advises the Board.
The ECLT has as its objective contributing to the elimination of child labour in the tobacco growing sector in order to provide children with an up-bringing that gives them the best chance in all aspects of life. In the short term the aim is to get all children to school and, in the medium term, to get them out of the most hazardous jobs. In the long term, the intention is to ensure a safer, healthy up-bringing and raise awareness among all stakeholders.
Work started in Malawi and plans were made to extend the programmes to other African countries, Mexico and the Philippines. Research on child labour was underway with ILO in Indonesia and the Dominican Republic, as well as in parts of Africa in order to address the increasing problem of HIV/AIDS. Inevitably, the image of ECLT is influenced by the controversial nature of tobacco. In spite of this, a considerable amount has been achieved in a short period of time and in creating active alliances with local, relevant partners.