Tobacco is currently the world’s most important non-food crop and contributes substantially to the economy of more than 150 countries.
The tobacco value chain is most often depicted from the perspective of the cigarette industry and its health implications. However, from a more integrated perspective, one is able to appreciate the importance of this sector - as a whole - to the economy and, in particular, to tobacco growing regions.
Tobacco taxation is the main source of revenue for almost all governments. In Sri Lanka, for example, tax revenue from tobacco accounts for 10% of total taxes collected by the government.
Few industries are as complete as the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry generally occupies an important role within a country’s social and economic context. Even in countries that do not have cigarette factories, the distribution of tobacco products is a significant source of economic activity.
Less than 0.1% of the world’s cultivable land is occupied by tobacco plantations – less than half the land occupied by coffee, for example – it is an important component of the agriculture industry in many countries and creates more employment per hectare of cultivated land than any other crop in the world. Price stability is one of the main attractions for tobacco growers, as well as greater profitability per hectare.
Good cultivation techniques also help tobacco farmers maximize land efficiency and help alternative crops grow, better enabling farmers to make the most of their land all year round.
In Central America and the Caribbean, the main tobacco plantations are located in:
In Guatemala, 70 per cent of tobacco is grown on the country’s southern coast. Tobacco production and trade in this area is considered a highly profitable activity.
Jalapa Valley is this country’s main tobacco growing area. Plantations are concentrated near the cities of Estelí and Ocotal, where they benefit from a moderately humid climate (70%).
Dominican Republic occupies first place in volume of tobacco cultivation; particularly, the Cibao Valley located to the north of the country, near the city of Santiago.
Honduras has two tobacco growing regions. The main one is located to the north of the country, in the Sula Valley, San Pedro de Sula; and the other in the area surrounding Tegucigalpa and Danlí. Tobacco from the Sula Valley is stronger than Cuban or Dominican tobacco. This country’s higher temperatures and humidity produce a leaf that is usually blended with other milder varieties. Tobacco from the region of Tegucigalpa and Danlí is mild with notes of wood.