Attempts of Ceylon Tobacco to Sustain Tobacco Cultivation in Sri Lanka

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Tobacco cultivation leads to many adverse effects on the farmers and the environment. (Please refer to the page Tobacco Cultivation Impacts for more details).

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) is the only subsidiary of the British American Tobacco (BAT) in the region that engages in a complete leaf-to-cigarette manufacturing process. CTC launched its tobacco cultivation programme in Sri Lanka in 1952.[1] Until 2016, all the tobacco leaves required for cigarette production of CTC were cultivated in Sri Lanka.[2][3][4] In Sri Lanka, tobacco is mainly cultivated in Galewela, Polonnaruwa, Mahiyangana, Ududumbara, Haliela and Buttala.[5] Even though tobacco farmers in Sri Lanka are not direct employees of CTC, CTC is directly involved in the cultivation process by providing them seeds, agrochemicals and buying their harvest.[6]

Government Plan to ban Tobacco Cultivation by 2020

Tobacco cultivation showed a downward trend in the recent years, urging CTC to close down its leaf depots.[7][8]

The Government of Sri Lanka publicly announced plans to ban tobacco cultivation by 2020.[9][10]

Industry Responses

CTC implemented different initiatives to promote tobacco cultivation and improve its relationship with farmers and policy makers.[11] Some of the initiatives are described below:

Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP)

Sustainable Agriculture Development Programme (SADP) is the main corporate social investment activity of CTC. Initiated in 2005, its main target was the tobacco cultivating farmers and their families. As of 2017, it branched out to different varieties ( SADP mega, SADP Ultra, SADP Lite) to include non-tobacco growing farmers. The objectives of the programme cover the themes of nutrition, home gardening and infrastructure development. The initiative received wide positive media coverage and political support. Please refer to the aforementioned pages for more details.

Maize as a sub Cultivation

Scientists and the governments around the world see Maize as a good alternative to tobacco cultivation as it is a food crop, has better return for investment and more environment friendly.[12][13] In the midst of government’s declaration of its plan to eliminate tobacco cultivation by the year 2020, CTC publicly announced they plan to cultivate maize in 150ha upon government request. Please refer to Government Requesting Tobacco Farmers to Grow Maize for further details.

Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT)

Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), is a technique introduced in The Philippines and adopted by CTC to reduce soil erosion in cultivated inclined lands.[14] Please refer to the page on Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) and Ceylon Tobacco for more details.

Image 1: Daily News, the state national newspaper reporting positively the CTC’s contribution to tobacco farming.[15]

Influencing Ministers of Agriculture

Please visit our page Influencing Ministers of Agriculture for more details.

Liaising with Media to Promote Tobacco Cultivation

CTC offered tours to journalists in their tobacco cultivation and SADP programme areas, receiving positive media coverage in return. Few examples are mentioned below:

Media tour in Kilinochchi (2013)

Daily Mirror, a national newspaper in Sri Lanka, reporting the tour directly quoted the CTC CEO on the benefits of the SADP programme with photographs of the beneficiaries. The article was titled “Ceylon Tobacco’s SADP goes beyond one-off direct aid”[16]. The same tour was positively reported in the Daily FT under the headline ‘’From separatism to SADP!’’[17]

Media tour in Galewela (2016)

Media reported positively on tobacco farming subsequent to a tour in Galewela organised by the CTC. Daily News, the state newspaper reported it under the headline “CTC generates sustainable farmer livelihoods from tobacco” (Image 1) and Daily FT’s headline was “The Tobacco Farmers of Galewela”.[15][11] Daily FT, reportedly quoting a farmer named Banda stated that only challenge the tobacco farmers encountered so far is the authorities’ attempts to discourage tobacco cultivation.[11]

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked entries:


  1. Ceylon Tobacco Company. Annual Report 2010, 2011, accessed September 2017
  2. Sri Lanka Excise Department, Sri Lanka Excise Department Performance Report 2014, Colombo: Sri Lanka Excise Department, 2015, accessed August 2017
  3. Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2016, 2017, accessed August 2017
  4. Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2015, 2016, accessed May 2017
  5. Tobacco Cultivation, undated, accessed September 2017
  6. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). Tobacco farming: A controversial livelihood, 23 September 2016, accessed August 2017
  7. M Andree. CTC to shut down two leaf depots, Ceylon Today, 31 January 2017, accessed September 2017
  8. Lanka Business Online. Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Tobacco to close two leaf depots, 31 January 2017, accessed September 2017
  9. World Health Organization. Sri Lanka: NCD Joint programming mission, 5-9 October 2015, April 2017, accessed September 2017
  10. S Marasinghe & D Mudalige. Tobacco cultivation to be banned by 2020, 7 June 2017, accessed September 2017
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 H Dabarera. The tobacco farmers of Galewela, 11 October 2016, accessed September 2017
  12. M Peiris. Farmers to opt to cultivate other crops instead of tobacco, 05 July 2016, accessed May 2017
  13. The Daily Star. Maize replacing tobacco, 06 January 2017, accessed May 2017
  14. N Gunawardena. When Worlds Collide #79: SALT can Save Lanka’s Upcountry Land and Soil. When Worlds Collide, 18th August 2013, accessed August 2017
  15. 15.0 15.1 Business. CTC generates sustainable farmer livelihoods from tobacco, 07 October 2016, accessed September 2017
  16. C Fernandopulle. Ceylon Tobacco’s SADP goes beyond one-off direct aid. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka), 18 July 2013, accessed September 2017
  17. N Cassim. From separatism to SADP!. Daily FT, 29 July 2013, accessed September 2017