Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

DIVTOB — Result In Brief

Project ID: 22739
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Germany
Domain: Environment

No smoking please

The EU is enhancing efforts to diversify tobacco production and find viable alternatives for income generation. Efforts will help tobacco farmers, most notably in Southern Europe, to migrate to different kinds of production.
No smoking please
As the last bastion of heavy smoking within the EU, i.e. Southern Europe, is being slowly but surely stamped out, there is a need to find alternative solutions for tobacco growers and diversity tobacco growing. The EU-funded project 'Diversification for tobacco growing regions in the Southern European Union' (Divtob) looked for sustainable alternative cultivation for tobacco growers. It addressed future livelihood of tobacco farms and those who work there.

The project studied the sector intensely, including working hours and incomes, to identify sustainable alternatives for different regions of Southern Europe, mostly Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. It worked on reducing the socioeconomic impact of scheduled reforms on farmers' families and proposed many alternatives. These included farming of aromatic/medicinal plants, establishment of energy plants, agro-tourism, aquaculture, hydroponics, horticulture including fruit production, animal farming and new crops such as stevia or pomegranate.

The continuation of tobacco crop cultivation in regions boasting good market quality was also considered. A combination of organic or conventional vegetable production and stevia cultivation was deemed to be one of the most productive approaches.

Divtob also recommended a sector analysis per country to avoid imbalances in new farming activities. For example, if too many farms switch to grain-eating livestock there may be too many businesses yielding the same products, which can negatively affect demand and supply. The project team outlined recommendations for family farms under 15 hectares of land, based on assumptions that 10,000 farmers produced three hectares of tobacco each, and that they were members of a producer organisation.

However, the project cautioned and concluded that diversification was controversial and most farmers were not prepared for such a reform, particularly since alternatives that could be directly implemented were not available. The new scenarios required less manpower generally, except for greenhouse production. Divtob found that diversification could support rural development and provide new jobs opportunities in the secondary and tertiary sector provided that investments were undertaken in new production chains, research and innovation.

More research is being undertaken in this sector related to information regarding tobacco policy and technology transfer of the most feasible diversification solutions. The road ahead is challenging, but the trend to move away from tobacco has been set in motion.

Related information

Keywords

Tobacco, hydroponics, horticulture, farming, stevia, pomegranate, smoking
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