Tobacco Crop Substitution: Pilot Effort in China

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Principal Investigator: Virgina Li

In China, approximately 20 million farmers produce the world's largest share of tobacco.  Demonstrating that income from crop substitution can exceed that from tobacco growth is essential to persuading farm families to stop planting tobacco, grown abundantly in Yunnan province. There, in Yuxi municipality, collaborators from the Yuxi Bureau of Agriculture and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health initiated a tobacco crop substitution project. At three sites, 458 farm families volunteered to participate in a new, for-profit cooperative model. This project successfully demonstrated an approach engaging farmers in cooperatives to substitute food crops for tobacco, thereby increasing farmers’ annual income between 21% and 110% per acre. Farmers, many of whom are not formally educated, are able to learn the knowledge and skills necessary to operate an enterprise in a groundbreaking effort supported by local governments and farmers to move tobacco control efforts upstream.