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Tobacco is one of the important high value commercial crops grown in an area of 0.45 million hectares over 15 states in India. Presently, India stands second in production of tobacco (761 million kg) in the world after China. The production of Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco is about 201 million kg from an area of 0.14 M ha while 560 million kg of non-FCV tobacco is produced from an area of 0.31 M ha. In the global scenario, Indian tobacco accounts for 13.8% of the area and 12.9% of the total production. By virtue of the dominant role played by this commercial crop, the Indian Central Tobacco Committee (ICTC) established Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) in Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh) in 1947. The Institute was under the administrative control of ICTC, Madras from 1947 to 1965 and subsequently transferred to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi. ICAR acts as a repository of information and provides consultancy on agriculture, horticulture, resource management, animal sciences, agricultural engineering, fisheries, agricultural extension, agricultural education, home science and agricultural communication. It has the mandate to co-ordinate agricultural research and development programmes and to develop linkages at national and international level with related organizations to enhance the quality of life of the farming community.

ICAR has established various research centres in order to meet the agricultural research and education needs of the country. It is actively pursuing human resource development in the field of agricultural sciences by setting up numerous agricultural universities spanning the entire country. The Technology Intervention Programmes also form an integral part of ICAR's agenda which establishes Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) responsible for training, research and demonstration of improved agro-technologies. As a part of its activity ICAR has taken over the CTRI from ICTC during 1965 for conducting fundamental and applied research on Tobacco for the benefit of the farming community. Over the years, institute has established six Regional Stations at Guntur, Kandukur, Jeelugumilli (Andhra Pradesh, Vedasandur (Tamil Nadu), Hunsur (Karnataka) and Dinhata (West Bengal) and and Two Krishi Vigyan Kendras located at Kalavacharla and Kandukur in Andhra Pradesh

Improving the productivity and quality of various types of tobacco viz., FCV, Natu, Chewing, Lanka, Burley, HDBRG, Hookah, Cigar wrapper, Cigar filler and Oriental is the prime mandate of the institute and its regional stations by solving various problems associated with the cultivation of different types in different regions. All India Coordinated Project on Tobacco was established by ICAR in the Fourth Five Year Plan during 1970-71 with the headquarters of the Coordinating unit at Anand (Gujarat), subsequently it was shifted to ICAR-CTRI, Rajahmundry, A.P. on 16-08-1998. Further, the AICRP on Tobacco was renamed as All India Network Research Project on Tobacco and kept under the administrative control of the Director, ICAR-CTRI, Rajahmundry. A total number of 14 centres (3 Main centres: Rajahmundry, Shivamogga and Anand; 7 sub-centres: Nipani, Nandyal, Berhampur, Araul, Dinhata, Guntur and Hunsur and 4 voluntary centres: Ladol, Jeelugumilli, Kandukur and Vedasandur) are functioning at present. The centres at Rajahmundry, Guntur, Hunsur, and Dinhata are functioning under the administrative control of ICAR-CTRI, Rajahmundry. Anand, Shivamogga, Nipani, Nandyal, Berhampur and Araul centres are under the administrative control of respective Universities, viz., Anand Agricultural University, Anand; University of Horticulture and Agricultural Sciences, Shivamogga; University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad; Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar and Chandra Sekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, respectively.

Currently, the Institute is the biggest of its kind in Asia, well equipped with the most sophisticated instruments for carrying out basic and applied research, especially in the frontier areas like Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Smoke Research at Rajahmundry. It is recognised by several universities like Andhra University, Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, A.P. Horticulture University, Bhagalpur University, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Adikavi Nannaya University, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri for the award of Ph.D. degree. At present about 189 employees including 30 Scientists, 85 technical staff and 34 administrative and 40 other skilled support staff are working in this institute. Tobacco farmers in the country are very much benefited from the research and technology support extended by the Institute during the past 75 years

Unique feature of tobacco production in India is that varied styles of FCV and different types of non-FCV tobacco are produced under diverse agro-ecological situations spread all over the country. Tobacco is grown in different agro-climatic regions of the country, significantly influencing the economy and prosperity of the farming community. FCV, Bidi, Hookah, Chewing, Cigar-wrapper, Cheroot, Burley, Oriental, HDBRG, Lanka, Pikka, Natu, Motihari, Jati etc. are the different types of tobacco grown. FCV, Burley and Oriental tobacco are the major exportable types. Tobacco provides livelihood security to 45.7 million people including 6 million farmers and 20 million farm labour engaged in tobacco farming. Bidi / factory workers alone provides employment to 8.5 million people, trade / retailers 7.2 million people and 4 million tribals are involved in tendu leaf collection. The main beneficiaries are the small and marginal farmers, rural women, tribal youth and weaker sections of the society. Annually, tobacco contributes Rs.6000 crores towards foreign exchange earnings accounting for nearly 2% of the country's total agri-exports and Rs.22, 737 crores to excise revenue which is more than 10% of the total excise revenue collection from all sources.

In the last seven decades, ICAR-CTRI has released/identified 102 high yielding, biotic and abiotic stress resistant varieties of different tobacco types, apart from developing and disseminating site specific production and protection technologies encompassing climate resilient crop production technologies, integrated pest and disease management practices, crop intensification and diversification strategies and alternate sources of energy, besides providing analytical services to Tobacco Board and Trade. Apart, ICAR-CTRI supplies tobacco seed which meets >90% seed requirement of the Indian tobacco farmers. It also maintains huge germplasm resources for varietal development

India enjoys an edge over the leading tobacco producing countries in terms of low production cost, average farm and export prices. Thus, Indian tobacco is considered as 'value for money'. India is one of the leading exporters of tobacco and occupies second place after Brazil. The country accounts for 7.8% by volume and 5.5% by value of the world tobacco trade and 70% of our exports continue to be FCV alone. Belgium, Russia, Egypt, Phillipines, Germany, Nepal, Korea, UAE and USA are the major importers of Indian FCV tobacco accounting for more than 60% of our exports. At present, Brazil, Malawi and Zimbabwe are the competitors to India in the export market. However, the exports of scented Bidis, Hookah tobacco paste, scented chewing tobacco and Zarda are noteworthy and there is a scope for augmenting the exports of these products in the near future

Botanically, tobacco belongs to the genus Nicotiana, which is one of the five major genera of the family Solanaceae. Nicotiana tabacum L and Nicotiana rustica L. are the two commercially cultivated species in the world. The tobacco is a unique crop and can easily come up even on infertile soils unsuitable for other crops, withstands vagaries of weather to a larger extent. Further, the crop is less prone to pest and disease attack. It is a model plant for biological research and a valuable source of many phyto-chemicals useful to mankind. Today, tobacco cultivation is a family business in many countries, providing livelihood security to millions of people in the world. Some of the positive features of Indian tobacco are the lower levels of heavy metals, TSNAs and pesticide residues compared to other tobacco producing countries. Thus, the situation presents a significant opportunity for the Indian tobacco industry to expand and consolidate its position in the world market