Questions that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this, your section,
and be answered by other readers. Please address your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.
What problems are Western tobacco companies causing in Third World countries?
Western tobacco companies pay very low prices for the tobacco grown in the Third World. This means Third World growers have to produce and sell an awful lot of tobacco. In Malawi intensive tobacco cultivation started in the central region of the country. This area is now bare. Tobacco growing has moved into the north and this area is also becoming deforested.
The Government of Malawi encourages people to grow tobacco as part of the Poverty Alleviation program. But there is no control over where it is grown. And because food crops do not fetch as high a price as tobacco only the poorest people, who cannot get loans for inputs to grow tobacco, grow any food.
The result is that Malawi is completely unable to feed itself and depends on Western donor countries for handouts.
But I don’t think it’s right to point the finger only at Western tobacco companies. What about tobacco consumers?
Tobacco production destroys miombo woodlands which are the forests of the savannah eco-zones of Africa. The large growers tend to flue-cure their tobacco, which means drying it in large barns by burning fuelwood to heat the air inside the barn. It has been estimated that between seven and eleven hectares of natural miombo woodland are required to cure just one hectare of tobacco.
When I was working in the Namwara district of Malawi for the Commonwealth Development Corporation in 1989 I was shocked by the wasteland left by tobacco farming which not only destroys the forests but also quickly exhausts the soil. The Commonwealth Development Corporation itself was growing tobacco for no better reason than to provide cash flow.
Thousands of Malawian farmers have been moved off their land to make way for large tobacco estates. But ordinary Malawian farmers – mainly women – do not benefit from the tobacco economy: the profits from export earnings go to an élite, so that when food crops fail ordinary people cannot afford to buy in the shortfall.
So, to smokers: your cigarette is not only bad for your health but is also causing forest loss and starvation in Africa.
Environmental Rights Action
awaiting your answers
We hear about the descendants of Black African slaves in the Americas and the Caribbean and the eventual abolition of slavery in these parts. But what happened to the Black African descendants of the Arab slave trade? Were they ever freed? Did they die out due to the custom of castrating the males?
If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities, New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK, or to your local NI office (see inside front cover for addresses).
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS SECTION ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF NI.
1 Mathematician’s team apparatus used to raise water (10,5)
9 Understanding which between the French and British was once warm (7)
10 Messy, sticky substance found on returned Associated Press document. (7)
11 Cain murdered civilization (4)
12 Creature, result of parrot-terrapin union (5)
13 It’s the equivalent of Poseidon losing net in India (4)
16 Reservoir where Raquel, if disoriented, gets left out (7)
17 Asian waterway with North-East Wales connections (7)
18 Island anger prior to capture... (7)
21 ...of pirate with what sounds like a bawdy song... (7)
23 ...promotes disorder (4)
24 Back mother, to a degree, against First National’s capital. (5)
25 Ukraine chicken? (4)
28 Liam’s back in the eleven for the Muslim group (7)
29 The Baltic’s towering hotel! (7)
30 Greek character to evacuate liberated sector where the Bomb is banned. (7-4,4)
1 Unreliable Rio anti-Nazi came with US character (15)
2 Tannin extract obtained from calcium on broken chute (7)
3 St Columba’s landing at ten on North Atlantic establishments (4)
4 He votes for the German prince... (7)
5 ... she needs no votes: some (not Old English) peers in revolt (7)
6 Ditches the fools (4)
7 Change direction concerning tour around the Orient... (2-5)
8 ... and head in the opposite direction going on to region immediately around Cape Town (7,8)
14 Sounds dire when bottom falls out of county in 18, revealing innards... (5)
15 ...the county in 18 names the girl! (5)
19 Stop mice cavorting around here all the time (7)
20 He explored the more humid surrounds of India first (7)
21 Book part for a meeting (7)
22 He succeeds, Hiro Hito takes lead from Tahiti knock-out punch (7)
26 Check back the flow (4)
27 Hole in flesh. Abandon silence – thin ice here (4)
1 Form of basic turbine still used to obtain water from the Nile (10,5)
9 Friendly understanding between countries (7)
10 Type of paper made by ancient Egyptians (7)
11 Pre-conquest civilization of South America (4)
12 Aquatic carnivore, Lutra lutra in Europe, Lutra canadensis in North America (5)
13 Indian city of the Raj, in the state of Maharashtra (4)
16 Natural underground reservoir (7)
17 Major river of Burma, rising in Tibet (7)
18 Member state of the European Union (7)
21 North African-based pirate of the 16th Century (7)
23 Acronym for the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (4)
24 Arab capital city built on the ancient capital of the Ammonites (5)
25 The third-largest city in the former USSR, on the confluence of the Desna and Dnieper rivers (4)
28 Shi’ite Muslim sect which has the Aga Khan as spiritual head (7)
29 Capital of Estonia, a former member of the Hanseatic League (7)
30 Declaration preventing localized nuclear activity (7-4,4)
1 The assimilation of a foreigner, for example, into the ways and customs of the US (15)
2 Vegetable extract, like gambier, that contains tannin (7)
3 Scottish island from where Christianity spread in 563 AD (4)
4 A prince of the Holy Roman Empire (7)
5 The ———- of Blandings – Wodehouse’s porcine creation (7)
6 Drains strength (4)
7 Plot a new course for someone (2-5)
8 Area around Cape Town famous for its rugby team (7,8)
14 Edible internal organs (5)
15 Cambridge’s second college, founded 1326, and Irish county (5)
19 Only found in a particular region, or regions. (7)
20 17th-18th Century English explorer who circumnavigated the globe three times (7)
21 Meeting of a knightly order (7)
22 Son of Hiro Hito who became Emperor of Japan in 1989 (7)
26 A marked trend of fortune (4)
27 Ice, floating as a sheet (4)
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©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996
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