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Brazilian Farmer | Tobacco Road

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Following up on a recent post-translation on Brazilian anti-tobacco policies in relation to the thriving, logistically unstoppable –not even drones can manage it,  Embraer or not — Sino-Paraguayan Silk Road smuggling industry.

The Estado de S. Paulo metro daily — more of a viewspaper than a newspaper, really — has recently been paid to organize a series of events on this topic featuring industry lobbyists and a visit from the minister of foreign relations, José Serra, promising said drones and a massive allocation of federal police to the hinterlands,  with special duty pay.

The ESP then covers its own event as though it were a newsworthy development in its own right.

By the way I am using this post — see above — to inaugurate a flat-file, Markdown-based content management system called Yellow, running on my Apache2 localhost server on Arch Linux and using a simple bootstrap theme.

Linux lowerarchy47 4.6.4-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Mon Jul 11 19:12:32 CEST 2016 x86_64 GNU/Linux

It makes for a nice personal browser based HTML editing app.  I would also like to go back and refresh my CSS knowledge, learn to integrate the simpler PHP plugins and the like. In Yellow this seems very doable. I would consider it for a lead Web app on my own server, when I can afford a domain of my own. 

In the meanwhile, however, in Old Sambodia 1.0, having recently met my personal Paraguayan Marlboro Man in person at his mobile, agile place of business — a location undisclosed for all our sakes — my curiosity is more and more piqued by news of the Great Paraguayan Silk Road.

I am setting a Google News Alert on my OSBB — Open Source Bloomberg Box, a Gmail account dedicated to such alerts.

By the way, I was smoking my way heavily through a pack of Marlboro-killer Eights — illustrated above — as I wrote-translated this post.

Source: EBC.

Brazil has made real progress in its campaign against tobacco addiction. Data from the health ministry for 2015 show that in the last ten years, the number of smokers older than 18 years fell 33.8%. This result is cause for celebration, given a National Cancer Institute (INCA) estimate that the cost of treating smoking-related illness is as much as R$ 23 billion per year.

The struggle against the evils of smoking has another face, however.

For more than 159,000 families, tobacco products are a way of life.

More than 90% of farmers who cultivate tobacco for cigarettes, cigars and the like are located on land in the Brazilian South. The remainder are located in the Northeast. According to the Special Secretary for Family Agriculture and Agricultural Development, the average cultivated area of these family farms is 15 hectares — that is to say, they are worked by small rural producers.

Though it remains a profitable line of business, tobacco brings in less money now than in previous years. According to AFUBRA, the Brazilian Association of Tobacco Growers, between 2011 and 2015 the revenue of this sector ceased growing and began to decline. Between 2011 and 2012, revenues grew 33.4%. Between 2012 and 2013, the sector grew 9%. Between 2013 and 2014, income grew only 1.15%, and fell by 19.6% in 2014-15.

This decline in revenues relates to both tobacco grown for domestic consumption and for export. Most of Brazilian production — 85% to 87% — is destined for foreign markets. Brazil is the second largest producer of tobacco products in the world, after China and vying with India for second place. Data from the World Health Organization indicate that demand for tobacco is declining on a global scale as well.

According to the WHO, nonsmokers under the age of 15 encompassed 3.9 billion persons, nearly 78% of the world population in that age group. The organization estimates that the number of persons who do not consume tobacco products will rise to 5 billion, or 81% of the estimated world population in 2025.

Public Policy

Though the decline in income is not directly related to the total number of smokers, the president of AFUBRA, Benício Werner, acknowledges that the number of farmers working with tobacxco is dwindling and that it has been necessary to reduce the planted area in order to “adjust supply and demand.”

The reduction of the area planted with tobacco, with the substitution of other crops, is encouraged by the government. Anti-tobacco public policy includes setting a minimum price for cigarettes, which in May was readjusted to R$ 5, and an elevated tax burden.

According to AFUBRA, the percentage of revenues consumed by taxes in 2011 was more than 56% and rose to 65.2% in 2015. The lobbyist critizes the minimum pricing policy and tight fiscal controls, saying that such policies only strengthen cigarette smugglers. “This is benefiting the legal producer to the detriment of the illegal producer.”

Aid to Farmers

Brazil’s Special Secretary for Family Agriculture and Agrarian Development, José Ricardo Roseno, says the government helps families who earn their living from tobacco plantations to substitute the product with other crops. On the other hand, he says, progress in this area is slow in coming because even with consumption falling, tobacco earns farmers a good living. What is more, farmers are firmly embedded in the tobacco value chain and the organization of coops and buyers for other crops is taking time.

“Tobacco-growing goes back a hundred years. There is a formal supply chain that guarantees sales and the recovery of costs. Other crops, such as dairy farming, corn, and rice, offer a certain degree of profitability, but lack a fully organized supply chain. For this reason, the policy [of subsidies] must be adjusted to the economic reality of the farmer,” he says.

According to Roseno, between 2015 and 2017, the government will have invested R$ 53 million in technical assistance and rural extension programs. According to Roseno, 30,000 tobacco growing families are already receiving this type of guidance, which enables theme to dedicate themselves to other crops. The special secretary also cites rural credit programs administered with the municipalities and the program Mais Gestão [More Management], designed to encourage the organization of cooperatives among small-scale producers.

As a result of these types of activity, Roseno says, the planted area of tobacco fell from 374,000 hectares to 308,200 hectares between 2009 and 2015, a reduction of 17.6% in seven years.

PRONAF Credit Program

At present the Secretary of Family Agriculture is working to reverse a resolution of the National Monetary Council (CMN) adopted on July 1. The rule provides that tobacco farmers, in order to qualify for credit from PRONA, the National Family Agriculture Program, must prove that at least 30% of their income comes from crops other than tobacco. For the harvest year 2017-2018, that proportion will rise to 40%, reaching 50% during the harvest of 2018-2019.

Previously, the required proportion was only 20%. The secretariat defends a return to this standard, arguing that the change is harmful to tobacco farmers. According to Roseno, a study by the secretariat shows that under the requirement of 30% from other crops, 70% of tobacco-farming families would be ineligible for PRONAF credits.

“PRONAF does not finance tobacco growing, it finances other activities. What will happen, then, is that the tobacco grower who sincerely wants to diversify will not have any way to do so,” Roseno argues, noting that the family agriculture secretariat has made a formal request to the Treasury Ministry to cancel the CMN resolution. It is expected that the topic will be discussed at the next meeting of the CMN.

The Brazilian tobacco farmer is not exactly a denizen of Tobacco Road film — it seems to me.

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A view of TikiWiki as installed on my 127.0.0.1 — infernally complex, I find.