The Cessation of Tobacco Leaf Purchase by British American Tobacco.....

....Viewed from the Perspective of a 'Reasonable Man'

Taking a step back from my personal implications in the forthcoming cessation of tobacco leaf purchase by the British American Tobacco (hereinafter, 'BAT') I honestly doubt the awareness of people as to this matter - it is just a personal opinion and anyone can disagree with me.  Putting myself in the reasonable man's shoes, the one who is not related to the tobacco industry, I should admit that I find this unawareness totally normal as the reasonable person cannot be expected to be a jack of all trades.  Therefore, in order to raise public awareness, I believe that I will need to: (i) understand the said 'reasonable man', (ii) be, as far as possible, impartial and (iii) bear in mind that my objective is to explain, clearly and concisely, the ultimate effect of the cessation of tobacco leaf purchase.
Who is the 'reasonable man' when one talks about the Mauritian Tobacco Industry?  My definition would be someone who does not have any direct or indirect relationship with the local tobacco industry - in other words, the answer is more than 1.3 million people.  For ease of understanding, I think the other way round would be better - I estimate the current stakeholders of our tobacco industry to be arguably around 6,000 people, i.e. those directly or indirectly depending on tobacco crop cultivation to live: that include the Tobacco Board (Board members/Management/Personnel & their respective dependents) and Tobacco Growers (Producers/Workers & their respective dependents).
Out of these 6,000 people, the cessation of tobacco leaf purchase would immediately affect around 3,000 people - mainly the Tobacco Producers/Workers and their respective dependents - because obviously they are personally invested in tobacco crop cultivating.  As such, the Tobacco Producers are self-employed and can be considered as separate entities which are undeniably the 'source of revenue' of their respective workers.  These Tobacco Producers are known experts in their work and apparently, that knowledge would soon be worthless.  Regarding the employees of the Tobacco Board (a parastatal body), their possible redeployment can be foreseen but nonetheless, one needs to be aware that these employees are, like the Tobacco Producers, qualified and trained for the tobacco industry and hence a change in their working environment would most likely have a consequential negative outcome.  However, unlike employees of the Tobacco Board, the idea for a redeployment of Tobacco Producers is irrelevant and as a result the only plausible action would be a supervised rehabilitation with the intervention and support of the required authorities.
Furthermore, it should be emphasised that the opportunity to be a Tobacco Producer is not automatic and is actually subject to some predefined requirements.  The initial requirements are imposed by the regulatory authority (the Tobacco Board) and are, inter alia, possession of land for seedbeds/nurseries; grading rooms (where the tobacco leaves are separated according to grades) and often barns/curing chambers (for yellowing & fixing the colour of green tobacco).  As we can deduce, being a Tobacco Producer implies the ability to bear these initial investments.  Besides, these Tobacco Producers also have to abide to other indirect financial requirements imposed by the BAT in terms of productivity and quality in order to align with the worldwide BAT standards.
I believe that, the 'reasonable man of the Mauritian Tobacco Industry', defined above as being someone who is totally external to that industry, was unaware of these substantial investments that are unique for the cultivation of tobacco.  Consequently, considering that the 'reasonable man' has now lent an ear to the Tobacco Producers and being optimistic by nature, the said 'reasonable person' can rightly argue that the Tobacco Producers need not worry since they would surely find another purchaser who would be willing to supersede BAT.  Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.  Actually, BAT, one of the biggest multinationals, argues that the prices of local tobacco leaves are too expensive (even though prices currently in force are those applicable since 2008) - the question is hence to know whether other tobacco purchasers have any interest in Mauritian tobacco leaves - the true reality is that this question has a negative answer for the same reason: local tobacco leaves are too expensive.
Why are local tobacco leaves so expensive?  Positioning myself back in the reasonable man's shoes, I will definitely find this weird - how can the local tobacco leaves be expensive when they are being purchased under 2008 prices?  As a matter of law, in Mauritius the purchase of tobacco leaves from Tobacco Producers is made by the regulatory authority, the Tobacco Board, which acts as a middle-man and hence ultimately sells back the leaves to the BAT.  Evidently, this middle-man role has a running cost and hence the Tobacco Board adds a significant mark-up increase on every kilogram of tobacco leaf bought from Tobacco Producers.  This mark-up increase causes a severe impact on the prices of local tobacco leaves when they are moving from the Tobacco Board to the BAT.
At this stage, I trust that the 'reasonable man' is now fully aware of the effect that a cessation of tobacco leaf purchase by the BAT would have on the abovementioned stakeholders in Mauritius.  At the end of the day, the sole loser will unfortunately be the one who has bore the risks of investing in tobacco crop cultivation for years, i.e. the Tobacco Producers.  Notwithstanding the above, as a matter of fact, if there was not an initial trust and willingness from Tobacco Producers to cultivate tobacco and therefore to bear all the substantial requirements imposed, the role played by both the BAT and the Tobacco Board since 1926 would have been undermined.
In light of the present exposé, I genuinely think that you, the 'reasonable person' who by definition exercises an average judgment, is now well-informed and conversant on the subject matter in question with relevant factual information and should in due course, be able to take a stand regarding BAT's forthcoming ultimatum.