Ethiopia Economy

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Tobacco

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Tobacco has been under commercial cultivation in Ethiopia for over a century. Though there is no clear evidence of its period of introduction, tobacco smoking, chewing and snuffing has been prevalent for a long time in the culture, especially among the people of southern Ethiopia.

However, it gained economic significance only recently, in 1937 E.C (1945), when tobacco leaf growing at a commercial level started in the Awasa area, Sidamo region on a very small hectarage. This has expanded over the past years to about 560 hectares of land.

Today, there are five tobacco leaf producing areas in the country, all of them in Shewa and Sidamo regions, and the total cultivated area has reached about 2000 hectares. The largest of these is the Nura Era tobacco farm, Shewa region, where, by 1976 E.C (1983/84) crop year, there was a total of 674 hectares under cultivation.

Another important development is taking place at Robi farm, Shewa region, where an experimental project of growing Virginia tobacco on 80 hectares has proved a success.
The National Tobacco and Matches Corpoation is the sole cigarette manufacturer in the country and partially undertakes the development of tobacco leaf production.

The recent acquisition of modern machinery has enabled the Addis Abeba Cigarette Factory to boost its production to double that of the pre-revolution period. Locally manufactured cigarettes have by far the largest local consumer market accounting for over 85% of the total sales.

Nevertheless, there is still a high dependency on imported tobacco leaf for cigarette manufacture. The challenge now is to exert maximum effort towards increasing tobacco leaf production to reach self-sufficiency.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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