Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 2

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52 tobaccoasia / Issue 2, 2015 (May/June) By Eric Piras While minds are often turned to Cuba, Domini- can Republic, Nicaragua, or Honduras for tobacco growing areas, one tends to forget or ignore that Asia also has a long history of cultivating tobacco, and with very respectable results. The main Asian areas for tobacco are the Phil- ippines and Indonesia: both countries have a deep tradition of cultivating tobacco and their best- known product is dark air-cured tobacco. One of the four methods of curing, air-curing, is a natural drying process in which harvested to- bacco leaves are hung to dry in an air-curing barn; the fermentation process it undergoes when drying in the natural heat of the barn gives air-cured to- bacco its medium to dark brown color and distinct aroma. This tobacco is mainly used in cigars, dark ciga- rettes, pipe mixtures, chewing tobacco, and other smokeless product tobaccos. In the Philippines, where tobacco was intro- duced during the last quarter of the 16th century by Spanish missionaries coming from Mexico, tobacco assumed the proportions of an industry around 1781. In 1883, a large commercial concern known as the Compana General de Tabacos de Filipinas built a large cigar and cigarette factory named "La Flor de la Isabela", which is still the largest opera- tor in the tobacco industry of the Philippines. While tobacco is now grown in almost every province, the valley of the Cagayan River is pecu- liarly adapted to the production of high-grade to- bacco and the best areas are (in ranking order) Isa- bela, Cagayan, Pangasinan, Cebu, and La Union. Some of the producers from the best areas are very professional and supply excellent tobacco to major machine-made cigar manufacturers. One of the most remarkable examples is probably Isabe- Dark Air-Cured Tobacco in Asia Sorting and buying tobacco

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