Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 3

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56 tobaccoasia TOBACCO LEAF 烟叶新闻 Pakistan New better yield tobacco Growers in the Swabi district of Pakistan have been cultivating a new variety of flue-cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco. Developed by a Brazil-based multinational company with the help of Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC), it boasts yields that are superior to other varieties of the crop. It is believed that the new variety is a better fit for the climatic condition of Pakistan. This is the first time the new variety is grown in Pakistan and the growers welcomed it enthusiastically. According to PTC officials, this has been a pilot project by the company and the growers at six different locations at Yar Hussain. Pakistani officials asked the growers to cultivate the new variety starting on the next tobacco growing season in Swabi, Mardan, and Buner as the next phase of the experiment. The officials said they had often visited the six growing fields in the district while helping the farmers implement adequate measures at different stages of crop growing. The new variety is characterized by high disease resistance, which in the long run should mean better yields than other similar crops. Purchasing compa- nies and tobacco entrepreneurs are likely to start exporting the crop because of its high quality and increase their profits. Australia Tobacco as cure for cancer Scientists at La Trobe University recently discovered that a protein molecule found in the pink and white flowers of the ornamental tobacco plant Nicotiana alata, which is an important part of the plant's natural defence mechanism against fungal and bacterial infections, could also be used to kill human cancer cells and destroys them. After isolating the molecule, known as NaD1, a type of defensin, the team from the biochemistry department used a range of techniques to examine the structure and function of the protein and discovered that it had the ability to identify and destroy cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Why it also works on mammalian cancer cells is currently unknown. The researchers discovered that the molecule used a sophisticated mecha- nism, which first formed a pincer-like structure that attached itself to lipids in the outer layer of invasive cells. It then ripped them apart. "The mechanism is totally novel for any molecule," said member of the research team cancer biologist Dr Mark Hulett. "This is the holy grail – to develop specific agents which will only target cancer and not the normal healthy cells." The NaD1 molecule is not only found in the tobacco plant, also but in other living organisms including other plants and humans. Hulett said its mode of action had never been understood and its potential to treat cancer was not known. NaD1 caused human cancer cells to develop bulges that later burst in the presence of this protein, promptly leading to cell death. The research team will carry out pre-clinical trials to study the possibility of applying this mechanism to treat cancer in humans. Hulett cautioned that it may take up to 10 years before a treatment based on this discovery could be released onto the market. The results of the research were published in the eLife journal. India Farmers furious over tax Tobacco farmers in Karnataka are protesting the government's proposal to increase tax on cigarettes. Apart from growers, farm workers are also dependent on this commercial crop. BV Javare Gowda, president of the Federation of Karnataka Tobacco Growers Association, was quoted by Business Line as saying "Flue-cured Virginia tobacco in Karnataka is grown under rain-fed conditions and that too in low fertile soils. Farmers in this region do not have any other remunerative alternative crop." He also said that was the only crop that gave returns to the farmers during the unfavorable weather conditions experienced both this year and during the crop year 2011-12. "Whenever news of increase in taxation and ban on the crop comes up, [farmers] feel this kind of information or decisions will jeopardise the prospects of thousands of small and marginal farmers," Gowda insisted. Talking about the impact of cigarette taxation and its effect on farmers' livelihoods T. Vikram Raje Urs, secretary of the association, said: "Domestic cigarette industry normally buy more than 50% of the tobacco on the auction platforms and plays supportive role in ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers in view of fluctuating exports. "Indiscriminate increase of excise duty on cigarettes will ruin farmers' livelihood. Reduction in legal cigarette production will reduce the tobacco purchases of domestic manufacturers, impacting market prices for farmers also due to abnormal increase in excise duty, illicit cigarette in India has been growing enormously and is now the fifth largest smuggled cigarette market in the World," explained Urs. Cigarettes account for only 15% of total tobacco consumed in India; the rest is beedies, chewing tobacco, Khini, and other local varieties. Zimbabwe Industry continues growth Statistics published by the country's Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) show that tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe sold about 205.5 million kg (mkg) of the crop in the marketing season that ended on June 27, crossing the 200 mkg mark for the first time since 2001. It is reported that in 2013, a total of 75,000 farmers delivered tobacco to auction floors, which is a huge jump from the 5,000 or so farmers that auctioned tobacco before the land resettlement program, which paved the way for this increase. TIMB data shows that deliveries of the leaf grew 33% year-on-year, while the average price declined to US$3.17 per kilogram from last year's US$3.70. The controversial political situation

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