The Federation of All India Farmers’ Association (FAIFA), a tobacco farmers’ lobby, has demanded that it should be allowed to take part in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties (COPS) at Centre International de Conferences Geneva (CICG) scheduled to be held at Geneva from October 1 to 6.

It has accused the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) for not allowing tobacco farmers to the meeting at least as observers at the crucial negotiations.

FAIFA met the Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu, and appealed to him to ensure the participation of tobacco farmers in the convention.

The Minister assured the delegation that he would discuss the issue with the Health Ministry and recommend the inclusion of tobacco farmers in the Indian panel going for COP8 deliberations.

“Participation of farmers will help them present their view point on the issue. This would result in a reasonable and balanced policy adoption and prevent the formulation of extreme one-sided decisions by the parties to the conference,” Murali Babu, General Secretary at FAIFA, said in a statement on Friday.

“One-sided policies would harm the interests of lakhs of farmers and other stakeholders,” he argued.

“Tobacco farmers in India are under extreme duress due to heavy taxation and adverse regulatory environment on the legal cigarette industry,” he felt.