Research conducted by UFRGS shows that tobacco farmers make more money compared to the average in Brazil

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The good socioeconomic standard of the tobacco growers became evident in the study. While 80.4% of the tobacco growers fit into classes A and B, the average Brazilian household income barely reaches 22%.

November 2016 – The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, through its Center for Studies and Administration Research, recently conducted a study with the aim to investigate the Socioeconomic Profile of the Tobacco Farmers in South Brazil. Requested by the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco), the research was carried out from August 29 to September 2016, in 15 of the  21 tobacco growing microregions comprised by the Southern Region of Brazil – which corresponds to 94.3%  of all tobacco produced in the region.

Coordinated by Professor Luiz Antonio Slongo, the research relied on support from researcher Lourdes Odete dos Santos and PhD student Rafael Laitano Lionello. Data collection was based on personal interviews, conducted at the home of the farmers used as sample. The population included in this study comprised 91,330 tobacco growers in the Southern Region and, for sample purposes, a total of 1,145 cases were considered, with a maximum sample error of 2.9%.The team of researchers consisted of professionals from CEPA/UFRGS and of interviewers recruited in the regions covered by the research, all duly trained.

The criterion for stratifying the population of tobacco growers in South Brazil complied with the recommendations given by Kamakura & Mazzon (2013). “This criterion is the most complete, updated and reliable, now available in the Country”, notes Slongo. In his view, the results of the research point to a good socioeconomic status of the tobacco farmers in South Brazil.

“We detected reasonable access to items related to conditions of comfort, hygiene and health, backed up by a good income level. The tobacco farmers have access to information and to satisfactory conditions for updating and developing their activity. They equally evaluate their own living standards, that is to say, in general they feel happy and accomplished. What is really impressive is that the per family and per capita income of the tobacco farmers is higher than the national average, and the economic level , which is the central focus of this study, turned out to be much higher compared to the rest of the Brazilians”, the coordinator notes.

The research also took into consideration the farmers’ self-evaluation.  “We realized that the tobacco farmers of the region express, in general, feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment, which have nothing to do with the false image of suffering or abandonment, frequently attributed to them”, concludes Slongo.

According to SindiTabaco president Iro Schünke, the results attest to the social and economic importance of tobacco in the rural setting. “The tobacco supply chain has systematically been the target of lies in different forums. Within this context, myths are attributed to the tobacco farmers, such as: the growers earn little money; they lack quality of life; they have no access to technology; they only earn money from tobacco; they have no technical assistance, etc. We hired a qualified and recognized institution to give us inputs for fighting such myths with facts. The results will not surprise those who know the tobacco supply chain, but they will impress those who still rely on information coming from antismoking advocates”, says Schünke.


Household income

  • Considering all sources of income, the tobacco farmers in South Brazil reach a monthly income of R$ 6,608.70, on average;
  • The per capita monthly income of the tobacco farmers in South Brazil is R$ 1,926.73, while the per capita income in Brazil is R$ 1,113.00 (IBGE, 2015);
  • 62% of the tobacco farmers have other income sources, besides their income from tobacco;
  • These other earnings come from other agricultural crops (nearly 50% of the tobacco growers) and from different sources (nearly 39% of the tobacco growers);
  • The other sources of income, not related to agricultural activities, come mainly from: retirement pay, permanent or temporary jobs, self-employed jobs, rent, land leasing, or income from financial applications.

Socioeconomic level of the tobacco farmers

  • The tobacco farmers in South Brazil fit mainly into strata “A”, “B1” and “B2”;
  • The percentage of tobacco farmers in stratum “A” is 6%, which corresponds to twice as much compared to the general average in Brazil. Only 2.8% of the Brazilian population fit into this stratum;
  • Similar behavior is seen in stratum “B1”. While in Brazil  the number of people that fit into the stratum reaches 3.6%, the number of tobacco farmers that fit into it represents 7.1%;
  • The biggest portion of tobacco farmers fit into stratum “B2”, representing 67.3%. The percentage corresponds to more than four times to what is detected in national terms, where only 15.1% of the people fit into this stratum;
  • The socioeconomic standard of the tobacco farmers is also ratified if we analyze the other extremity of the scale, that is to say, the one that corresponds to the lowest levels. While in Brazil strata “C1”, “C2”, “C3” and “D”, comprise 80% of the population, if the tobacco farmers are considered, these strata correspond only to 19.6%.

Socioeconomic Level
Social Strata General in Brazil Tobacco Prod. in South Brazil
New Brazil Criterion

As far as housing and household conditions go
• Nearly 65% are brick homes or stone homes;
• Nearly 90% have three or more sleeping rooms;
• All the households have access to electric energy, via general electric grid;
• Nearly 99% of the households are equipped with hot water systems, at least for the shower room, powered by electric energy.

Possession of goods
• Nearly 89% of the tobacco farmers have an automobile, and 61% of them have a motorcycle;
• 85% of the tobacco farmers have a tractor or mini-tractor;
• Nearly 10% of the tobacco growers have other capital assets, besides the home where they live;
• More than 96% of the households have a washing machine and 65% have a clothes dryer;
• 84% have an electric oven and 51% have a micro-wave oven;
• 47% of the households have a vacuum cleaner;
• Nearly 21% have air conditioners and 21% have a ventilator.

Features related to means of communication and entertainment
• Practically 100% have a color television set;
• 94.3% have a cell phone and 14.8% have a traditional telephone line;
• 85.5% of the households have a satellite dish;
• Nearly 66% have a DVD device;
• Nearly half of the households (48.9%) have a computer;
• 47.5% have access to the internet, 44% in their own household.

Tobacco farmer education
• Nearly 45% of the tobacco farmers in the South of the Country attended schools for 8 years, which correspond to the complete first level, or more; among them, 14% attended school for more than 11 years, which corresponds to the second complete level, and even college courses, either complete or incomplete;
• 85% of them have already taken courses on safe pesticide handling;
• 45% of them have already taken courses on correct soil management;
• Nearly 50% have already taken a course on rural property management or organization;
• Nearly 98% believe they are well informed about safe tobacco harvesting procedures;
• 98% of these farmers are given technical assistance by the companies.


Rio Grande do Sul: Arroio do Tigre, Boqueirão do Leão, Camaquã, Canguçu, Chuvisca, Crissiumal, Ibarama, Nova Palma, Pinhal Grande, Rio Pardo, Santa Cruz do Sul, São Lourenço do Sul, Três Passos and Venâncio Aires.

Santa Catarina: Caibi, Grão Pará, Içara, Monte Castelo, Orleans, Palmitos, Rio do Campo, Riqueza, Santa Terezinha, Sombrio, Urussanga and Vitor Meireles.

Paraná: Agudos do Sul, Capanema, Irati, Mallet, Piên, Quitandinha, Rebouças, Rio Azul, Rio Negro, São Mateus do Sul, São Miguel do Iguaçu and Serranópolis do Iguaçu.

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