Unmanufactured Tobacco Production in Selected Countries
Preliminary assessments indicate that 1998
tobacco crops will be lower in several of the world's major
producing countries.Larger crops are forecast in Argentina,
Malawi, and Zimbabwe, with smaller crops anticipated in Brazil
and China. For 1998, production of unmanufactured tobacco in
these countries is forecast at 3.78 million tons (farm sales
weight basis), down 17 percent from 1997.
Argentina: Tobacco production for 1997 reached slightly over 123,000 tons, up about 25 percent from 1996. Plantings increased in 1997 by over 20 percent due to favorable grower prices and a strong foreign demand. Argentine leaf exports rose nearly 7 percent in 1997 to almost 60,000 tons. For 1998, production is forecast to increase to over 143,000 tons. Good grower returns last year are expected to push plantings up nearly 11 percent in 1998. The Argentine flue-cured crop is forecast to increase nearly 17 percent in 1988 to about 88,000 tons. Burley production is expected to total over 44,000 tons, while light air-cured output should remain steady at 11,000 tons.
Brazil: Unmanufactured tobacco production in 1997 reached 597,000 tons, up over 32 percent from last year. Much of the increase can be attributed to good weather conditions which pushed yields higher in 1997, and an increase in the number of associated tobacco growers. In 1997, the number of growers in southern Brazil who are associated with the Brazilian Tobacco Growers Association increased nearly 13 percent to 160,560. For 1998, leaf production is forecast to decline slightly to about 536,000 tons. Much of the decline in production can be attributed to expectations that the "El Nino" phenomenon will result in poorer weather conditions and subsequently lower yields.
China: Tobacco production for 1996 and estimates for 1997 have been revised upward 12 percent to 3.23 and 20 percent to 3.47 million tons, respectively, from the June 1997 forecasts due in part to higher planting levels than previously forecast and near record yields . Plantings during 1996 and 1997 were up 20 percent to a 1.85 million hectares and 29 percent to 1.99 million hectares, respectively, because tobacco growing has been profitable. The quality of the 1997 crop is reported to be good with an increased percentage of the higher grades than last year.
In July the Chinese Government passed new regulations to control total tobacco planting. If the new regulations are applied to plantings for 1998, total area is forecast to fall to 1.50 million hectares and production to 2.7 million tons. The Chinese Government hopes to cut production by over one million tons to 1.7 million tons with these new regulations. The central government has never been successful in lowering tobacco production to the levels desired because taxes on tobacco are a major source of revenue to the various provinces. The Chinese Government does not subsidize tobacco production, but some provinces like Yunnan, which accounts for over 25 percent of national output, provides a fertilizer subsidy and supports tobacco prices.
Malawi: Tobacco leaf production for 1997 reached a record 158,784 tons, up 4 percent from the June forecasts and up 8 percent from 1996. Tobacco production is increasing due to better yields as the small scale growers become more efficient. Burley production, the leading type grown in Malawi, reached 133,890 tons in 1997, up from 117,940 tons in 1996. For 1998, total tobacco production is forecast up almost 9 percent to 172,500 tons with burley up 9 percent to 146,000 tons. The Government wants to put more high grade land under production. This land is now held in large blocks under the leasehold tenure system which the Government wants to be more productive..
Zimbabwe: Tobacco production for 1997 is estimated at 192,107 tons, down 8 percent from 1996 and 9 percent lower than the June forecast due to excessive rains from December to February which reduced both yield and quality. Average prices of flue-cured tobacco, the leading type grown, were US$ 2.33, down from US$ 2.94 per kilo last year. Total leaf production for 1998 is projected at 227,040 tons. Adequate irrigation water due to excessive rainfall over the last two years should cover any dry spells due to this year's El Nino. The great uncertainty next year involves the Government's plans to confiscate half of the commercial farms to re-settle landless peasants and other poor people. Re-settlement which is planned to start in August should have limited impact on the 1998 crop. About half the farms to be taken are tobacco farms, but total tobacco production is not expected to be reduced by the land confiscations.