Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 3

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58 tobaccoasia TOBACCO LEAF 烟叶新闻 WHO SAID WHAT? surrounding the program aside (the land reform meant that instead of a handful of farmers with immense tracts of land, the country's farmlands have been divided into much smaller pieces given to smaller operators), this represents a clear example of an instance where thousands of people have been able to become self-employed in a meaningful way thanks to the industry's growth. Although some people have raised concerns about this model's sustainabil- ity and lack of efficiency, most new farmers seem content with the new arrangement as their financial position has greatly improved. Tobacco is the country's biggest agricultural export and second-biggest earner after minerals, and remains one of the few sectors showing strong growth. About 106,000 mainly small-scale growers farm tobacco in Zimbabwe. The current growth is a very encouraging sign, but certain fundamentals must be taken care of if the gains made thus far are to continue. Albania Star Tobacco eyes Albania Star Tobacco International plans to revive tobacco production in Albania that has been lacking in the past several years. The company ordered a six-month study of the market and began contact- ing farmers to evaluate the situation with the tobacco industry. Iqbal Lambat, executive director of Star Tobacco was quoted by Top Channel as saying that the company's representatives have already visited several farms, mainly in the region of Shkodra to see why the farmers have dif- ficulty selling tobacco. The company is now planning to build a factory in Albania, so that tobacco produced by farmers could be processed locally and meet international standards. Star Tobacco operates mainly in Asian and European markets, and the company is confident that there is demand for Albanian tobacco in Asia. Company executives say that Albania should be able to regain past tobacco production levels, which should create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of euros in export revenue. "Historically, Albania has produced about 15,000 tons per year tobacco, which meant that nearly 45,000 local farmers had jobs. Today, production stands at 6,000 tons, but we intend to push it back to 15-20,000 tons and this drive alone will create some 60,000 new jobs, bringing more revenue from exports," said Lambat. Zimbabwe Seizures cause sales surge President Robert Mugabe's government has announced its land transfer cam- paign vindicated, citing the country's 205.5 million kg (453 million pounds) of tobacco delivered for sale this year, finally breaking through the 200 mkg mark for the first time since 2001, according to data from the country's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board. This is Zimbabwe's biggest tobacco sale figure in 13 years. In 2001 the market still was domi- nated by large-scale, mainly white-run farms. However, often violent govern- ment-backed invasions that began in 2000 eventually pushed about 3,000 farmers and 300,000 workers off land that are now small and medium black- run farms. Add to that the struggle farmers faced with the cost of inputs like fertilizer, chemicals, and technical know-how and the production of Zimbabwe's flue-cured tobacco, also known as Virginia tobacco, plunged. By 2008, tobacco output had plunged to 48 mkg and Zimbabwe's world rank as an exporter of top-grade, flue-cured tobacco slipped from second to sixth. The country's economy shrank 40% between 2000 and 2008, inflation was at 500 billion percent, and Zimbabwe experienced close to a decade of famine. In February 2009 the country abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar to use mainly the US dollar and South African rand, stopping hyperinflation and leading to the first economic growth in a decade. Russia New bill proposed If the Russian parliament supports the initiative of the State Duma deputy Viktor Zvagelskiy to raise the minimum cost of a pack of cigarettes in 2015 to 55 rubles (US$1.59) (a figure that could reach 82 rubles (US$2.38) by 2018), domestic cigarette manufacturers in the lower price segment will be in danger of extinction. Experts say that the bill will destroy the domestic tobacco industry, clearing the market for the huge foreign tobacco corporations, which already own about 90% of the Russian market. Pogarskiy Cigarette and Cigar Factory, as well as representatives of Pereslavl Tobacco, Donskoy Tabak, UTF, and other Russian companies sent an open letter to Finance Minister Anton Siluanova in which they ex- pressed their concern by the measure. Despite the criticism of the bill, many experts estimate that the chances of this bill being adopted as law are very high. "These products [e-cigarettes] could be among the most significant health innova- tions of the 21st century – perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted." 53 world-renowned scientists in their letter to WHO director, Margaret Chan

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