The World Health Organisation (WHO) has blamed the increasing cultivation of tobacco for food and nutrition insecurity in many parts of Africa. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the Regional Director for Africa, WHO, noted that tobacco cultivation has taken over land that should be used for cultivating good crops, thereby destroying the ecosystem.
He added that tobacco farming and production exacerbate nutrition and food insecurity, while also depleting soils of fertility, contaminating water bodies, and polluting the environment. Moeti further stated that the WHO has been working with member states and other partners to assist farmers in shifting from tobacco growing to alternative crops.
According to Moeti, almost 828 million people are facing hunger globally, of which 278 million (20%) are in Africa. He also noted that 57.9% of people in Africa suffer from moderate to severe food insecurity.
Moeti explained that tobacco cultivation has shifted to Africa due to a regulatory environment that is more favorable to the tobacco industry, as well as increasing demand for tobacco. He stated that any profits to be gained from tobacco as a cash crop may not offset the damage done to sustainable food production in low and middle-income countries.