WHO supports tobacco farmers to transition to better food security.

This photo shows a sign at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, taken on December 7, 2021. — AFP

GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday its commitment to help the growing number of farmers who are moving away from tobacco farming and focus on growing food crops. have been. The initiative aims to strengthen food security, with a particular focus on Africa. Together with other UN agencies, WHO is actively supporting farmers who want to convert their tobacco farms into food-producing farms.

As the world marks World No Tobacco Day, WHO highlighted its partnership with UN agencies to facilitate the transition of farmers from tobacco to food farming. A successful pilot scheme in Kenya has prompted the United Nations to expand the program to other countries and continents, with the aim of replicating its success.

WHO Director for Health Promotion Rudiger Kreich expressed the urgency of the situation, revealing that a staggering 349 million people are now severely food insecure, up from 135 million in 2019. There is a significant increase. Cash crops, using an estimated 3.2 million hectares of land. Additionally, approximately 200,000 hectares of land are cleared each year for tobacco crops.

In addition to the harmful effects on the health of both smokers and farmers, the WHO highlighted the impact of tobacco farming on food security. The organization expressed concern over the growing influence of tobacco companies in Africa, as tobacco plantations across the continent have grown by about 20 percent since 2005. Creech emphasized the need to dispel the myth that tobacco farming contributes to economic growth, as it accounts for more than 1% of gross domestic product in only five countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and North Macedonia. is part. As a result, most of the profits go to global tobacco companies rather than benefiting local economies.

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