India to end non-cigarette tobacco production

In line with its strategy of cutting tobacco cultivation in India, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to end the production of all types and varieties, with the exception of the cigarette types, flue-cured Virginia tobacco, Burley and oriental, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Virginia tobacco

Flue-cured Virginia tobacco

The ministry is said to be aiming to bring down the total area under tobacco from 450,000 ha to 200,000 ha by 2020, and production from 750 million kg to 250 million kg.

The reasoning behind this move is that the non-tobacco types and varieties are not as remunerative as are the cigarette types, so the compensation paid to farmers forced to move to other crops, which will be borne by the Ministry of Health, will be relatively modest.

In the past, it has been difficult for the Tobacco Board of India to control the amount of flue-cured tobacco produced, the only type under the control of the board, so it was not immediately clear how the ministry would end the production of the non-cigarette types – how it would stop farmers returning to tobacco once they had received their compensation.

But the biggest question revolves around whether the government is intending in this way to bring an end to the local production of bidis, and chewing and hookah tobacco.

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