Farmers switch from tobacco to ginseng and lavender with the government’s help

With cigarette sales slumping and entire cities declaring smoking bans, tobacco farmers have seen a drop in demand for their product. Add an influx of imported, cheaper grades of tobacco coming from China, Brazil and Zimbabwe, and the farmers started hitting hard times.

The federal government in Canada decided to provide help to this troubled industry. They offered an incentive to the farmers to switch to other types of crops.

Over the past few years, tobacco farmers have been taking them up on the offer. The $67-million aid package helped them move away from tobacco and to a range of healthier crops – ginseng, lavender, hemp, asparagus, sweet corn, strawberries and cucumbers.
I got to see this transformation firsthand a few years ago. I was on a road trip across southern Ontario and saw white tarps on the fields and long, thin mounds of green. I asked my traveling companion what they were and she said it was ginseng, and that the tobacco farmers were converting quickly to this profitable new crop. New to Canada, certainly, but thousands of years old in China and Korea.

It excited me so much to see this happening. Farmers who used to produce a cancer-causing crop moving to ginseng, an herb that will help so many people.

According to Ginseng Ontario, studies have proven that ginseng is helpful with diabetes, memory and cold/flu. The Chinese have long considered it a general health tonic, and a fertility herb.

Author by Daryl Kulak