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MoA will take initiatives to reduce tobacco cultivation

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The Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Md. Sayedul Islam said that initiatives will be taken to reduce tobacco cultivation to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh announced by the Honorable Prime Minister. On 10 October 2022, he expressed this opinion in the speech of the chief guest in the discussion meeting titled ‘Role of the Ministry of Agriculture in building a tobacco-free Bangladesh announced by the Honorable Prime Minister’ in the meeting room of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Bangladesh Secretariat. Applauding the initiative of the Ministry of Health to amend the current tobacco control law, he also said that for the sake of food security, tobacco cultivation should be discouraged. In this case, farmers should be encouraged to grow alternative crops. In this way, it will be possible to create a tobacco-free Bangladesh by the year 2040 as announced by the Prime Minister.

Md. Shajedul Qayyum Dulal, Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission gave a welcome address under the chairmanship of Md. Ruhul Amin Talukder, Additional Secretary of PPC Division of Ministry of Agriculture. Md. Benazir Alam, Director General, Directorate of Agricultural Extension, Abdullah Masud NDC, Additional Secretary, A Ghaffar Khan, Director General (Additional Secretary), Directorate of Agricultural Marketing, Hossain Ali Khandokar, Additional Secretary, Health Services Division and Coordinator, National Tobacco Control Cell also spoke in the discussion meeting. Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids-Bangladesh, Professor Dr. Arup Ratan Choudhury, Founder President, MANAS, Md. Shafiqul Islam, Head of Programs – Bangladesh, Vital Strategies, etc. Md. Mukhlesur Rahman, Deputy Director, Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission presented the keynote of the discussion meeting.

Md. Shajedul Qayyum Dulal in his welcome speech said that we believe that the Ministry of Agriculture will play a positive role in the process of revising the law of the Ministry of Health to strengthen the Tobacco Control Act to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh.

Md. Mostafizur Rahman said that tobacco companies always talk about protecting the interests of smokers, but they ignore the right of non-smokers to protect themselves from the harm of indirect smoking. Designated smoking areas in public places violate the rights of non-smokers. Therefore, the rule of keeping smoking areas in all public places and public transport should be banned for the protection of public health.

Professor Dr. Arup Ratan Choudhury said tobacco is the name of an epidemic. Tobacco farmers and their family members suffer from various physical problems including skin cancer due to the effect of this tobacco. There is no way but to control it.

In the president’s speech, Md. Ruhal Amin Talukder said that the road map for creating a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040 should be finalized by the Ministry of Health as soon as possible. In that case, whose role should be specified in each sector?

Expectations towards the Ministry of Agriculture were highlighted in the meeting.

• Full support of the amendments to the Tobacco Control Act made by the Ministry of Health and taking a positive role in the process of its passage.

• Encouraging tobacco farmers to grow food crops in addition to tobacco to ensure food security.

• Amending the Agricultural Marketing Act 2018 to exclude noxious tobacco from the list of cash crops.

• Prohibition of the use of fertilizer in tobacco cultivation.

• Requesting the Ministry of Commerce to exclude cigarettes from the Essential Commodities Act, 1956

• Show no sympathy for tobacco companies.

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