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Focused support for farming communities

Meeting the needs of rural communities

Our Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer Livelihoods (SAFL) programme is based on an internationally recognised framework covering five focus areas, known as ‘Capitals’.

The five Capitals framework is based on the premise that to have a sustainable livelihood, farming communities must be ‘in credit’ across five areas: financial, natural, physical, human and social. Strength in all five types of capital creates resilience and enables farmers and rural communities to prosper.

The strength of each Capital is measured annually against 14 key performance indicators detailed below. In 2016, we conducted the first comprehensive assessment of our farmers’ current circumstances for each of these indicators. We are now using the results to identify the most pressing risks and issues on the ground and to build upon our existing projects and approach to develop effective local actions and long-term multi-stakeholder partnerships to address them. 

Financial Capital: profitable farms and stable incomes

Key indicators
  • Farm income
  • Farm productivity
  • Crop diversification/food security
Examples of activities

Our expert field technicians provide advice and support for all of our farmers, helping them to run successful and profitable farms. This includes helping farmers to optimise the profitability of their businesses, with tobacco grown alongside other crops in mixed agricultural landscapes.

We guarantee to buy a certain amount of tobacco from our farmers each year. This gives them a regular income, enabling them to invest in their farms and build more successful businesses. We also provide seeds that offer greater yields, quality and resistance to diseases and drought. These can lead to better returns for the farmers and higher quality leaf for our products.

In some countries, we go beyond this by establishing long-term partnerships and community projects focused on tackling rural poverty. For example, for over 10 years our business in Sri Lanka has had a programme working with poor rural families, teaching them agricultural skills, enhancing their knowledge and providing resources such as seeds, plants and poultry, as well as training in beekeeping, mushroom cultivation and goat-rearing. It has a focus on female empowerment and is designed to help the families become more self-sufficient and economically independent, while also maximising their land use and providing them with a more nutritional diet. Find out more in our Sri Lanka case study.

Human Capital: skills, knowledge, labour and human rights

Key indicators
  • Next generation of farmers
  • Tackling child labour
  • Health and safety
Examples of activities

We provide training and capacity building through farmer clubs, field days, workshops and manuals for our farmers and their communities, covering issues such as child labour, the safe use of agrochemicals and occupational health issues, such as green tobacco sickness.

Some of our companies also run community projects focused on tackling child labour.

For example, in Brazil we support the Tobacco Industry Interstate Union’s Growing Up Right programme, which uses farmer training to address child labour and has been recognised as an example of best practice by the ILO. Also in Brazil, our Extended School Day programme helps provide after-school activities for children in tobacco-growing regions.

In Mexico, our company has been working for over 15 years with the Government on the Blossom programme, helping to build centres that support the children of indigenous migrant farmworkers through providing education, health checks, better nutrition and somewhere to play.

Read more about our work in this area in Human rights and child labour in tobacco growing.

Natural Capital: the natural resources upon which farming and landscapes rely

Key indicators
  • Soil and water management
  • Water use
  • Sustainable fuels
Examples of activities

This includes providing guidance and techniques on preserving soil and water health, such as crop rotation, mulching, green manure, irrigation, drainage and the reduced use of pesticides, as well as reducing water use through new techniques and technologies, such as drip irrigation.

We are also helping farmers to preserve forests through afforestation programmes, which aim to provide a sustainable source of wood to use as a fuel for curing tobacco. We also work to find locally available alternative fuels, such as the use of rice husk as a fuel in Sri Lanka or the use of bagasse briquettes in Kenya (supplied by BAT in partnership with a local sugar factory). We are also exploring ways to reduce wood fuel consumption by using innovative designs for curing barns. Read more in Preserving natural forests.

We have an ongoing commitment to eliminate the use of unsustainable sources of wood by our contracted farmers. In 2016, 99% of our contracted farmers’ wood fuel for curing was from sustainable sources. We publish our full wood fuel data   in our Sustainability Performance Centre.

Our biodiversity risk and opportunity assessment tool, which was developed by our former Biodiversity Partnership with three conservation NGOs, helps our companies identify, assess and address risks arising from their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystems in and around their leaf-growing operations. All our tobacco leaf growing operations have completed assessments and initiatives are in place to address the issues identified. For more details, please see Managing biodiversity.

Physical Capital: the basic infrastructure needed for viable places to live and work

Key indicators
  • Land security
  • Access to decent water and sanitation, energy, housing and healthcare
Examples of activities

We provide our farmers with access to technology and invest in community projects to help ensure tobacco growing areas remain viable places to live and work.

For example, in Pakistan, our company has provided basic healthcare facilities for remote rural areas through mobile doctor units, which treat more than 80,000 patients each year. BAT Pakistan has also brought light to a remote village in the north west of the country, through a partnership with the Government of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to provide solar energy kits for around 3,000 villagers. Find out more in our video case study.

In Bangladesh, our company provides more than 11,000 rural people their first access to electricity at home and the use of mobile phones. The company also has project to install community water filtration plants that purify water for around 170,000 people a day, providing much needed clean drinking water in 14 farming districts.

Social Capital: the resources and ‘safety nets’ needed for self-sufficiency and resilience

Key indicators
  • Livelihood security
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Grievance mechanisms
Examples of activities

We are working to build farmer networks by helping them to share best practice and become more self-sufficient. The regular training, workshops and seminars we run help to facilitate networks among our farmers’ communities.

In some countries, we go beyond this by establishing formal farmer clubs or forums as part of wider community projects. For example, our company in Bangladesh has established over 50 farmer clubs in collaboration with the Government’s Department of Agricultural Extension. The clubs are led by committees made up of local community members and company representatives. They include a combination of classroom training and field work, in areas such as alternative fuels, pesticide management, irrigation techniques, green manuring and composting. The training provided covers other crops such as rice and vegetables, not just tobacco.

On the Indonesian island of Lombok, we worked with the NGO Fauna & Flora International, as part of our former the Biodiversity Partnership, to try to build community action to address water scarcity issues. The project took a multi-stakeholder approach involving central, provincial and district government agencies, local NGOs, the University of Mataram and local communities, including our tobacco farmers. Activities included establishing community groups and networks, providing training on water management and alternative fuels, restoring watersheds by planting trees, and facilitating the development of a 15-year Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Renggung area, signed by the Head of the Central Lombok District Government.