jump to search

Sustainable agriculture and farmer livelihoods

They grow, we grow: helping farmers to thrive

Tobacco leaf is the most essential part of our products, so the farmers who grow it are absolutely crucial to the success of our business.

Sustainable agriculture and farmer livelihoods

How does BAT support farmer livelihoods and sustainable agriculture?

Our agricultural supply chain

We do not own tobacco farms or directly employ farmers – but our approach to agriculture and working with farmers means that we have strong influence.

More than 350,000 farmers in 34 countries supply us with the tobacco leaf used to make our products. We buy more than 400,000 tonnes of tobacco each year from a small number of first-tier suppliers, which include:

  • 17 BAT leaf operations, which directly contract and support over 90,000 farmers;
  • More than 20 third-party suppliers, which contract approximately 260,000 farmers.

We also purchase a small amount of tobacco sourced from auction floors.

All our suppliers are managed centrally by our Group's leaf function, which enables global oversight of our supply chain and the sustainability risks and issues inherent in agriculture. We have a defined approach to identifying our most strategic and critical leaf sources, which takes account of a number of parameters, including the tobacco type, geography and commercial factors, such as price and volume. Over 80% of our total leaf purchases are from these strategic sources.

The farms in our supply chain vary in size and complexity:

  • 59% are one hectare or less, and are typically unmechanised, family farms with no hired labour. As well as tobacco, they also grow food crops for their own consumption or sale in local markets
  • 11% are between 1.1 and four hectares, with some mechanisation and hired labour, and tend to grow other crops, such as wheat and maize, for commercial scale
  • 30% are over four hectares, with full mechanisation and use of hired labour. These farms usually grow multiple crops for commercial sale, including cotton and soy bean.

A strategic approach

Agricultural supply chains are particularly vulnerable to a range of challenges, including climate change and water scarcity, increasing demand for land and natural resources, rural poverty, social inequality, child labour and ageing farmer populations. Tobacco is no exception.

At BAT, we have a long and proud history of working directly with farmers around the world and advancing agricultural practices. This benefits our farmers by giving them the resources and support they need to be successful, as well as helping to secure our long-term supply of tobacco leaf and ensuring the integrity and quality of our products to satisfy our consumers.

We see an opportunity for us to build on this longstanding approach, to work with others to develop multi-stakeholder solutions to increasing challenges and expectations and to further enhance the livelihoods of farmers and their communities.

We focus on two key programmes to ensure the long-term sustainability of our tobacco leaf supply chain and to enhance farmer livelihoods:

  • Sustainable Tobacco Programme: We use the industry-wide Sustainable Tobacco Programme to conduct formal assessments and independent on-site reviews for 100% of our tier one tobacco leaf suppliers, including all our own leaf operations, to ensure alignment with international standards, such as for human rights and environmental protection
  • ThriveThrive sustainable agriculture and farmer livelihoods programme: Our Thrive programme goes beyond audit and compliance by taking a more holistic and collaborative approach to identifying and addressing long-term challenges that have an impact on the livelihoods of farming communities and the sustainability of agriculture.

Tobacco farming

  • More than 100 countries grow tobacco.
  • China grows the most, followed by Brazil, India, USA and Zimbabwe.
  • Less than 1% of the world’s total agricultural land is estimated to be used for tobacco farming (based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations).
  • Tobacco is only grown for part of the year leaving the land available for other crops, including food, to be grown during the rest of the year.
A day in the life of...
A day in the life of...

A day in the life of our work with farmers and our leaf research.

Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer Livelihoods Report

Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer Livelihoods Focus Report 2017
Download our Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer Livelihoods Focus Report 2017
max
large
medium
small
mobile