For making cigars, tobacco is grown all around the world, from Poland to South Africa, from Argentina to Canada and, westbound, from Philippines to Mexico. But cigar tobaccos are mainly grown in the intertropical areas.
Tobacco is known as a plant originally from America. Some species were identified in South Pacific. There are many species and varieties. Not all of them are used in smoking products. Many are grown as ornamental plants as they are frequently blooming, showing colors from white to dark red and purple.
Here are some of the countries in which tobacco is grown, to produce your cigars.
Argentina grows dark air-cured tobacco in the provinces of Misiones and Corrientes, and flue cured tobacco in the area of Salta. Misiones has also a production of Burley type. These tobaccos are mainly for cigarettes but Corrientes is appreciated for short filler cigars because of its smooth taste. Argentina used to be a big producer and exporter but changes in the economic and income tax policies have seriously damaged the production, making the tobacco too expensive to be competitive on the international market. Consequently, production volumes have decreased.
Brazil is one of the largest world’s tobacco producers. The East Central State of Bahia is an important cigar tobacco growing area, about 100 miles west of the state capital, Salvador da Bahia, an active port on the Atlantic Coast. The Northern State of Alagoas hosts a production around the city of Arapiraca where maduro cigar wrappers are grown. The Southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina produce tobacco for cigarettes and pipe.
Cameroon cigar wrappers are grown in the East part of the country. The growing area spreads over the eastern border, into the Central African Republic. Wrappers are air grown, without fertilizers and pesticides, by small farmers. The average plantation size is about one acre. The seed is originally from Sumatra, introduced in the country just after WWII. Grown first for French Monopoly needs, the tobacco was offered on the international market when production was too large for this single use. Well appreciated by European manufacturers and large American cigars companies, Cameroon wrapper production dropped down during the late 1980s, due to poor management. Today, quantities are small and quality could be better.
Dark air cured tobaccos are produced in Mexico, mainly in Vera Cruz and Tampico provinces, on the East Coast along the Golf. There is also some production in Yucatan. Previously a state-owned operation, it is now handled by private individuals and cooperatives. Mexican tobacco is very dark and the best leaves can be used as maduro wrappers. In San Andres de Tuxtla (Vera Cruz), there is a very interesting production of Sumatra seed wrappers.
In Philippines, tobacco growing is concentrated in the Northern part of the main island of Luzon. Traditionally, dark tobacco for cigars was grown and Philippines’ cigars were very famous, under the powerful Compania General de Tabaccos de Filipinas. They probably declined because they were too mild. Today, Philippines still grows dark tobacco and has developed a production of flue-cured tobacco for blond cigarettes.
Zimbabwe is among the top three countries for high quality flue cured tobacco (with the USA and Brazil). The embargo that hit the country, when it was still Rhodesia, did not hurt the production. It made the Rhodesians more inventive and they went on producing. At this time, Zambia and Tanzania, the neighboring countries were selling a lot! When the embargo was lifted in 1980 allowing us to deal directly, we discovered a fascinating organization and equipment, the best in the world. Tobacco was the top activity of the country and getting a job in tobacco was a challenge for many young men. The actual Zimbabwean agrarian policy , which we won’t discuss here, will probably strike this country off the list of tobacco producers. Cigar industry will not suffer as flue-cured tobaccos are mainly concerned. Brazil should be the major beneficiary of this situation.
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