Using safer and fewer chemicals
Our integrated pest management approach seeks to protect crops by drawing on all available methods to achieve a significant reduction in the use of chemicals. Our growing programmes lead the industry in reducing the use of agrochemicals.
Integrated pest management does not mean completely eliminating synthetic pesticides, but making sure they are used appropriately and against pests whose numbers cannot be controlled any other way. Our approach has seen a significant reduction in the average amount of synthetic pesticides used in the tobacco growing areas where we have a direct influence.
The procedures for our growing programmes include selecting approved chemicals, safe handling, application, storage and disposal, monitoring through regular residue testing and providing training for farmers in the growing programmes where our companies provide direct agronomy support.
We encourage the use of safer agrochemicals and actively discourage the use of highly hazardous active ingredients classified as Ia and Ib by the World Health Organization.
Group companies are supplied with a list of products that should not be used on tobacco, including products governed by international conventions and agreements. We continue to work with farmers to ensure that the more hazardous products still available in some countries are phased out and replaced with more sustainable alternatives.
All the agrochemical products used must be registered for use on tobacco in that country and have approval from local legislators. Products must be applied according to good agricultural practice and comply with the conditions of use as detailed by the manufacturer.
We issue guidelines on the products we consider most appropriate for use on tobacco and review the guidelines regularly, taking into account changes in legislation, approvals and registrations, recent advances in environmental and hazard assessments and whether certain products are necessary.
Our companies are working on various alternatives to reduce or avoid the use of synthetic pesticides in pest control and they are increasingly being used by our contracted farmers.
They include 'natural enemies', such as types of insects that deal naturally with pests and natural products such as the leaves of the Neem tree, which can be ground up into a solution to make a natural pesticide.
Our companies provide agronomy support to farmers and monitor and report on the use of manufactured pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in line with our Integrated Pest Management approach. This seeks to protect crops using all available alternative methods to achieve a significant reduction in the use of chemicals.
The Group’s long term standard is 1.5 kg of active chemicals per hectare per annum on average, below that of many other crops, although the amount used varies from year to year due to growing conditions. In 2015, the average use of active chemicals per hectare of tobacco by our leaf suppliers was 1.69 kg (1.52 kg in 2014).
Together, we’ve reduced the ‘active ingredients’ used on each hectare of land given over to tobacco to less than other major crops, such as strawberries and sugar cane.