Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 2

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56 tobaccoasia The tobacco industry of China, in a process of modernization of tobacco agriculture under the auspices of the State Tobacco Monopoly Admin- istration (STMA) since 2007, is exploring ways of lean production of leaf tobacco to meet the trend of sweeping changes. While speaking at a national leaf tobacco work symposium held in Beijing on November 14, 2013, STMA deputy director-general He Zehua made specific references to leaf tobacco produc- tion in 2014, saying that efforts would be made to promote the quality of both the leaf tobacco and the production technology this year, under the guiding principle of lean production. STMA has overseen the process of modern- ization of Chinese tobacco agriculture since 2007. Over the past seven years or so, the country's to- bacco industry gave great importance to the build- ing of infrastructure facilities, improving its hard- ware and actively promoting measure to foster its development. During this period, the tobacco industry underwent a gradual process of transition from the traditional leaf tobacco production pat- tern of separate growing of tobacco by petty farm- ers operating with manpower and animal haulage, to a new pattern of large-scale, specialized and in- tensive farming. Despite the recent successes, the process has not been without its share of problems. For one thing, small farmers still make up a large propor- tion of leaf tobacco production in China, and such situation continues to inhibit the growth of pro- ductivity. Secondly, poor logistics management with low efficiency and high costs has made it dif- ficult to solve the problem of skyrocketing costs of cigarette production. What's more, the rate of technological development has far outpaced the speed with which changes are happening in the tobacco farming community. As a result, the latest scientific achievements and technology research have not been embraced by farmers or manu- facturers quickly enough. Traditional production strategies have been unable to effectively address such problems. It has become exceedingly clear that if China's tobacco industry wishes to continue stimulating the steady development of tobacco production in the country, it has to introduce new guidelines, in- cluding the so-called concept of lean production. Speaking at the national ad hoc meeting on the management of enterprises of the tobacco industry held in south China's Guangzhou City on Novem- ber 21-22, 2013, STMA deputy director-general Li Keming discussed the requirements of lean pro- China's Tobacco Industry Explores Lean Production Shaoguan City Tobacco Monopoly Administration of Guangdong province inspected the tobacco seedlings.

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