We expect our suppliers to manage any impact they have on the environment
Our approach to crop management is to use good agricultural practices alongside new developments in crop and environmental protection, to support farmers in producing tobacco that provides a good income and is grown in harmony with the environment.
Less than one per cent of the world's agricultural land is given over to tobacco farming. That’s less than half the land given over to coffee, for example, and tobacco is only grown for part of the year. Farmers can and do put their earnings from tobacco into growing other crops, including food, and the agricultural techniques they use for growing quality tobacco help to improve these.
Why do farmers choose to grow tobacco?
Farmers, many of them in developing countries, choose to grow tobacco because it is hardy, grows well in poorer soils and volatile weather and still fetches a higher and more stable income than many other crops.
In developing countries, farmers can earn good yields from very small plots of tobacco, while dedicating most of their land to other uses, like maize, cereals, root crops or fruit and vegetables.
As part of our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme, our companies provide farmers with technical support in good agricultural practices, incorporating all elements of good agricultural practices into user-friendly training programmes. This includes the provision of seeds based on quality criteria and compliance with international and local legislation and customer requirements.
Our suppliers are also encouraged to integrate principles of biodiversity into their operational systems and our companies work with them to improve their effectiveness.
Integrated pest management
We seek to reduce significantly the use of manufactured pesticides on crops through alternative methods of pest control, such as restricting the use of pesticide to appropriate phases of the growing cycle and the use of bio-control, in which natural fungal or insect predators are introduced to eliminate pests.
We expect our suppliers to monitor and analyse the impact of their agricultural practices on the flora and fauna affected by their operations, as well as ensuring that they are managing and using pesticides safely.
Conservation and the environment
We support good agricultural practices such as crop rotation, soil mulching, drainage and land contouring. Our suppliers are expected to monitor and manage any impact their operations may have on the soil.
They are also expected to monitor and manage any impact that their use of agrochemicals and nutrients may have on the flora and fauna of any water systems close to their operations, and to apply fertilisers at an appropriate rate to avoid over-application.
The use of wood as fuel in curing tobacco and in building curing barns is an important issue, especially in areas where wood is a scarce resource and under pressure. Our approach seeks to ensure the efficient and sustainable use of wood and the use of alternative fuels wherever possible.
Since the 1970s, British American Tobacco companies have sponsored and promoted afforestation programmes to ensure a supply of wood to tobacco growers.
We are also incorporating biodiversity considerations into the management of company-sponsored woodlands, building on our belief that diversification of woodlands is key to long-term sustainability.