Tobacco farming: Exploring novel approaches to offer and evaluate viable alternative livelihoods

Tobacco farming has many negative consequences for the health and wellbeing of farmers, as well as for the environment and the long-term wellbeing of the country concerned. This project explores novel approaches to offer and evaluate viable alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers.

Tobacco use is a well-recognised major threat to public health. It is a serious health hazard not only to the users but also to non-users particularly through second hand smoke exposure. Tobacco farming itself also has many negative consequences for the health and wellbeing of farmers, as well as for the environment and the long-term wellbeing of the country concerned because of the use of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals. The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The treaty entails an obligation upon governments to implement policies to reduce both the demand and supply of tobacco, including the promotion of economically viable alternatives for tobacco workers, growers and sellers.

Most policies and interventions are focused on reducing demand, whilst those targeting the supply of tobacco at the tobacco leaf production level are very few and often not economically viable or sustainable. At country level, there are barriers to implement policies to curb tobacco supply. There is also limited availability of tools capable of evaluating the impact of such policies. This pump priming fund will be utilised explore innovative ideas to address this gap.

We will initially focus on Zimbabwe, a country that ranks among the top ten for tobacco leaf production worldwide; and is one of Africa’s major tobacco producer, only second to Malawi (using Food and Agriculture Organization data from 2014). The country recently became a signatory (in March 2015) to the WHO FCTC, and thus offers an opportunity for testing the evaluation of any supply side policies that are to be implemented as a result.

We will specifically seek to address the following objectives:

  1. To assess the viability of two innovative technologies (smart phone application and satellite imaging) designed to promote and evaluate the effect of alternative livelihoods for tobacco growers in Zimbabwe
  2. To perform a literature review on the use of the state-of-the-art satellite imaging in detecting crop type. 
  3. To make decisions on applying for a proof of concept research grant based on the results from objectives 1 and 2.

Funding

Funder:  Risk Priming Fund, University of York
Start Date: February 2017
End Date: July 2017

Members

Internal Staff

External Staff

  • Thomas Baldwin
  • Suresh Manandhar

Public Health and Society Research in the Department of Health Sciences