NEW DELHI: Gujarat, which accounts around 48 per cent of total farm land under tobacco cultivation, is witnessing piling up of unsold crops following suspension of production by cigarette and bidi makers after the government mandated 85 per cent pictorial warning.
The state, which has around 4.5 lakh farmers engaged in tobacco cultivation, is facing problems as April is the peak time to sell crops to manufacturers, said the Gujarat Tobacco Merchants Association (GTMA).
It has also asked the government to take a "moderate and balanced stand on the issue and give relief to tobacco farmers and retailers by quashing the undemocratic 85 per cent warning rule".
The government has ordered to increase the size of graphic warning to 85 per cent on tobacco products instead of 40 per cent earlier with effect from April 1. According to GTMA, it has also impacted more than 1.5 lakhs micro-retailers, traders and panwallas, selling tobacco products of Gujarat.
"The tobacco farmers and retailers of Gujarat are facing an unprecedented threat because of the policy shock of 85 per cent warnings on beedis and chewing tobacco, which has led to overnight closure of the tobacco industry in India," said GTMA President Bhikhu Bhai Patel.
"An arbitrary, unreasonable and impractical tobacco policy has mass scale adverse social ramifications for poor farmers and beedi workers in India, which are being put under cover under the pretext of popular policies," he added.
Tobacco is cultivated on 1,50,000 hectare in the state which has an annual production of 360 million kg and if rains arrive before its buying, entire tobacco produce will be destroyed. From April 1, major cigarettes manufactures including ITC, Godfrey Philips and VST have decided to shut their factories and stop manufacturing in the wake of larger pictorial warnings.