- Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Macedonia says it will not cut support for tobacco farmers in deference to new recommendations from the World Health Organization, WHO.
Dry tobacco in Prilep, Macedonia | Photo by: Nenad Bumbic
Macedonian tobacco growers have expressed alarm after the WHO presented a set of recommendations this week, advising governments worldwide to cut support for tobacco growers and reduce production.
Growers voiced alarm that cuts in aid could leave them jobless.
“Tobacco growers can rest assured that the production of oriental tobacco will continue and that government subsidies will not be cut,” Macedonia's Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski said on Wednesday.
However, as a member of the WHO, Macedonia is expected to respect the recommendations of the organisation.
In 2006, the country signed the convention for control over tobacco production that has been endorsed by 176 countries.
But Stavreski insisted that the subsidies for next year will amount to 20 million euro, the same amount as this year.
Production of highly aromatic oriental tobacco is one of the biggest branches of agriculture in Macedonia, employing some 33,000 families who produce 21 to 25 million kilos a year.
Tobacco products make up some 25 per cent of the overall agricultural and food exports of the country.
In 2011, Macedonia earned about 100 million euro from selling raw tobacco and another 25 million euro from selling cigarettes.
“Our climate is ideal for growing oriental tobacco and there is no other culture that could replace it and be equally profitable," Kiril Filipovski, head of the Association of Tobacco Producers, said.
He said that he was relieved to hear the government's announcement.
At a meeting planned for Friday in Skopje, regional tobacco growers from Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia will mull ways to jointly counter the new WHO recommendations that they fear may endanger tobacco production in the Balkans.
The new recommendations will be put to vote in November at a global conference on tobacco production in Seoul, Korea, organized by the WHO.
Some countries have already warned that if they are passed, they will not implement them.
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