Problems In Tobacco Growing
It is estimated that over 78,000 children work on tobacco estates across Malawi alone.Children working on tobacco farms are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and other dangers.There is widespread use of children on farms in Malawi and Zimbabwe. While some of these children work with their families on small family-owned farms, others work on large plantations.
Damage to environment
Environmental lobby groups are blaming tobacco production for the ever-increasing depletion of forest cover in Africa. Tobacco is flue-cured, a process that burns a large amount of wood.
Farmers who grow the air-cured burley tobacco also cut down a lot of trees for poles to construct tobacco shades, and use trees for sticks on which they hang the leaves to dry. Estimates from forestry departments show that it takes at least three hectares of trees to cure one hectare of tobacco.
Tobacco companies recommend up to 16 separate applications of pesticides just in the period between planting the seeds in greenhouses and transplanting the young plants to the field. Pesticide use has been worsened by the desire to produce bigger crops in less time because of the decreasing market value of tobacco. Pesticides often harm tobacco farmers because they are unaware of the health effects and the proper safety protocol for working with pesticides.
A Tobacco crop also degrades the soil of more nutrients than many other crops, often making soil nonviable/barren to grow food essentials.Unlike many food crops, tobacco production offers no replenishment to the soil or to other parts of the farm ecosystem. The biomass (stalks or plant residue) left after harvest is of no food value to livestock and poultry. The stalks or plant residue are required to be cut and burnt to reduce tobacco diseases and weeds before onset of another planting season. In turn, the diminished animal resources reduce animal manure, which is essential to maintain soil health in developing countries here in Africa.