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Tobacco output, exports set to rise

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, June 30

WITH global production expected to trail consumption for the third year in a row, world-ending stocks of raw tobacco are set to decline by a fifth to one of the lowest levels.

However, India is expected to buck the trend in major origins with production, consumption and export of tobacco poised to rebound in the current year.

Improved production and consumption prospects here are likely to prove positive for the domestic tobacco industry. While global leaf exports are forecast to fall on account of lower production in many areas and stagnant global demand for tobacco products, India's raw tobacco exports are set to rebound by a quarter.

Nearly three-fourths of the world's leaf tobacco production is grown in China, the US, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Greece.

For 2002, global leaf output is forecast to fall marginally as a result of a downturn in cigarette use in much of the developed world, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). India, the world's second leading producer behind China, is forecast to grow nearly 6.35 lakh tonnes of tobacco in 2002, up over 8 per cent from last year. Much of this increase is due to the ending of the crop holiday in Andhra Pradesh, the main flue-cured growing area.

Flue-cured tobacco that accounts for about a quarter of the country's leaf crop is expected to reach 1.55 lt, a nearly three-fold increase from last year, the agency said. Much of the remaining leaf grown in the country is dark air-cured and sun-cured type tobacco.

Domestic leaf consumption is expected to reach 4.76 lt in 2002, up slightly from last year. Because of crop restrictions in Andhra Pradesh, the main flue-cured State, the tobacco industry faced difficulties last year. Cigarette sales — both domestic and export — dropped in 2001.

However, leaf use is expected to increase in the current year on account of improved availability of leaf and increase in cigarette exports, USDA pointed out.

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