Although there is no control on cultivation and processing of tobacco, agriculture department of the country claims that they always discouraged the farmers not to grow the poisonous crop.
Framing of tobacco is increasing every year and a vast tracts of fresh fertile lands are being used for tobacco cultivation by tapping the growers with lucrative offers.
Besides, fall of prices of other crops also pushes farmers towards tobacco farming.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Lalmonirhat, tobacco was cultivated on 25,000 hectares of land this year, which was only 6,500 hectares in 2010.
Farmer Jahangir Hossain, 54, of Sarpukur village in Aditmari upazila, said most to the time they are lured by the tobacco companies to grow tobacco instead of other corps in their fertile land.
“We prefer to grow the poisonous crop with the hope of earning a bit more, but it never happens actually,” he said.
“Most of the tobacco companies earn a huge profit, luring the farmers,” alleged Tofayel Uddin, 55, a tobacco grower at Saptibari village in Aditmari upazila.
“I was motivated by representative of a tobacco company and forgot about the soil fertility and the surrounding environment,” he said.
Farmer Jagadish Chandra Barman, 56, of Bhadai village in the upazila, said tobacco companies provide them identity cards, seed and even fertilisers free of cost.
“If farmers are not motivated, lured with lucrative offers they would never opted to go for tobacco farming in large scale,” he said, adding that they know tobacco is harmful for health but they totally forget that when tobacco company’s representatives rattle their brains.
Tah Hiyatul Habib Mridul, president of Lalmonirhat Child and Youth Network, said around 6,000 children are currently engaged in producing bidi and processing tobacco leaves at different factories in the district.
“Although we are trying to motivate them, it brings no result as parents are seen more interested in enjoying their kid’s earnings rather sending them to schools,” he said.
An official of a tobacco company in Lalmonirhat, seeking anonymity, said the district has a tobacco market worth Tk 500 crore.
Aditmari Upazila Agriculture Officer Ali Noor said farmers always prefer talking to the representatives of the tobacco companies and follow their instructions instead of taking advice from the agriculture officials.
Lalmonirhat Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shafiul Arif said if they get any directives from the government they will take necessary steps against the tobacco companies and their representatives working in the field level.