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Farmers on the brink of ruin due to alcohol and tobacco ban: SAAI

SAAI's Francois Rossouw said the economic damage for tobacco farmers is immense, as they have no buyers for their product and it's not feasible to rely solely on exports.

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CAPE TOWN – The Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) has headed to the Western Cape High Court in support of tobacco farmers.

British American Tobacco is spearheading a legal battle to unban the sale of tobacco products.

The company started arguing its case on Wednesday, and the matter resumed in the morning.

It's concerned the ban is putting jobs at risk and tax revenue is being dealt a massive blow.

SAAI's Francois Rossouw said the economic damage for tobacco farmers is immense, as they have no buyers for their product and it's not feasible to rely solely on exports.

He said the estimated loss of excise duty to the fiscus is about R35 million per day.

“SAAI will be supporting BAT-SA in the Minister of Cogta case. It is important for us that the whole value chain is opened up, seeing that farmers cannot merely rely on exports. There are lot of them that are on the brink of ruin, as a result of [the ban].”

Rossouw said they were still planning to approach the Northern Gauteng High Court on the 18 August, in a bid to have the ban on the sale and consumption of wine in restaurants set aside.

The organisation believes government's regulations are threatening the existence of some of the oldest wine farms in the country.

“ SAAI will also be representing the interests of family wine farmers in the High Court, to overturn the alcohol ban as they are almost 90% of family wine farmers that will be in total ruin if we don’t lift this alcohol ban.”

The application is supported by 13 other applicants from the wine industry.

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