Our farmers are some of our most important stakeholders
All farmers who contract with Pakistan Tobacco Company benefit from our full time extension service. These are packaged services which encompass activities from seed to point of sales assistance and incorporates the latest in agricultural best practices.
Since Virginia tobacco was non native to this region of Pakistan, it was a tough task to initiate this crop across NWFP. The endeavour involved proper extension services in crop related cultural practices, consistent efforts in making tobacco a viable crop for the farmer community, and introducing mechanisms so that yield and quality can be improved.
As a result of our activities Pakistan has become the 5th largest tobacco producer in the world and 4th highest in yield. It was only through consistent, farmer focused initiatives and developing closer relationships with our farmers that Pakistan Tobacco Company was able to achieve such feats.
The best practices in the tobacco production process introduced with the assistance of Pakistan Tobacco Company have had a national impact as these were later transferred to other crops. The benefits for the wider farming community due to these initiatives include:
- Research and introduction of high yielding, disease resistant, varieties of tobacco, and the free distribution of their seeds to growers.
- Polyethylene covers: Initially used for tobacco seed protection they are now being widely used for growing vegetables in all parts of the NWFP.
- Introduction of compound fertilizers NPK: This contributed to higher yield and quality improvements.
- Introduction of diesel water pumps: as a low cost alternative to supplement irrigation in the rain fed area of Buner, NWFP.
- Introduction of mechanical ploughing for tobacco cultivation in some areas in the NWFP.
To learn more about the work we do with our farmers, please navigate to our .
Flue curing is done in barns such as the one above
Curing is a carefully controlled process used to achieve the texture, colour and overall quality of a specific tobacco type. During the process, leaf starch is converted into sugar, the green colour vanishes and the tobacco goes through colour changes from lemon to yellow to orange to brown, like tree leaves in autumn. Curing is done by the farmer after cultivation. The three curing processes commonly used in Pakistan are:
Air cured tobacco, for example Burley, is hung in unheated, ventilated barns to dry naturally until the leaf reaches a light to medium brown colour. At this point, there are virtually no sugars left in the leaf.
Heat is introduced into a barn via pipes from an exterior furnace like radiators connected to a central heating system. This controlled heat allows the leaves to turn yellow/orange, at which point the process is complete. These leaves now contain a high amount of sugar. Virginia tobacco is flue-cured.
Leaves are strung out on racks and exposed to the sun. The whole process takes from 12 to 30 days. The sun's direct heat cures the leaves to a yellow to orange colour with high sugar content. Oriental tobacco is the most prominent among the sun cured tobaccos.
After curing, the farmer grades the leaves into different leaf positions, qualities and colours and packs his grades into what is known as a farmer bale of 30-50kg. He then brings his bales to our leaf buying depots for sale from where it is sent to our Green Leaf Threshing Plant for further processing.