british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Working with farmers

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Sustainability Report 2011

Agronomy support

We have around 800 leaf managers and technicians worldwide, who provide agronomy support to all our directly contracted tobacco farmers and engage with farming communities in all our tobacco growing locations.

Working with farmersEngaging with our contracted farmers in this way helps make their farms viable and efficient. In doing so, we protect the security and quality of our tobacco leaf supply. However, our agronomy support covers areas of agricultural practice other than just tobacco farming. So it also helps farmers improve the quality and yields of food crops, making them more self-sufficient.

It includes:

  • Information on best practice like labour and safety standards and the appropriate use of agrochemicals;
  • Advice on how to maximise yields, optimise crop quality, achieve reliable returns and improve the long-term sustainability of a farm; and
  • Guidance on improving the long-term potential of the soil and other farm resources, for example through crop rotation.

Our global agronomy centre in Brazil supports our leaf managers by identifying best practice and helping them to help farmers implement it consistently.

While the support we provide our contracted farmers undoubtedly brings advantages to our business in terms of access to high quality tobacco leaf, it also plays a significant role in improving local environments and livelihoods and in helping tobacco farmers mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Sustainable sourcing

Tobacco leaf sometimes requires additional heat for curing and, in 2011, 78 per cent of the tobacco leaf we purchased used wood as the fuel for this. We promote afforestation programmes to enable farmers who require wood for tobacco curing to obtain it from sustainable sources and we have a target of zero use of natural forest for our directly contracted farmers’ curing fuels by 2015.

In 2011, we made progress towards this target, with a fall from 12.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent. This can be viewed in the wood fuel sources data.

We are also encouraging some of our contracted farmers to cure their tobacco with appropriate, locally available alternative fuels. These can include gas, sawdust, coal, candlenut shells or liquid petroleum gas, as well as coffee or rice paddy husks. All fuels have environmental impacts, so we are also evaluating ways to minimise fuel consumption, for example by using innovative designs for curing barns. You can read more about this in a case study on curing barn design in Zimbabwe.

Continual improvement

We monitor the social and environmental performance of all our leaf suppliers through our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme.

The programme includes good agricultural practices, which combine viable tobacco production with positive environmental management; soil and water conservation; appropriate use of agrochemicals; promoting afforestation programmes; safety standards; medical facilities; and eliminating exploitative child labour.

In 2011, as well as all suppliers carrying out self-assessments, the independent reviewer LeafTc carried out 26 reviews in 17 countries. By the year end, 96 per cent of suppliers had been reviewed by LeafTc at least once. SRTP has been shared with the industry and the details of the review criteria are available on Opens in new window.

In 2011, we introduced minimum performance thresholds for all our tobacco leaf suppliers and we are revising the full programme, in consultation with LeafTc. The updated version is expected in 2012 and will also be aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s new Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Agriculture.

The latest SRTP scores, including those for the child labour section, can be seen in the SRTP performance data .



In 2011, we supplied over 180 markets with 705 billion cigarettes made at our 46 cigarette factories in 39 countries. We purchased 443,480 tonnes of tobacco leaf, grown by more than 200,000 farmers, over 140,000 of whom are directly contracted to us.

We also purchase significant quantities of other materials, such as packaging, cigarette paper, filter materials, glues and inks.
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