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Tobacco crop is cultivated in an area of 0.45 M ha (0.27% of the net cultivated area) producing ~ 750 M kg of tobacco leaf. India is the 2nd largest producer and exporter after China and Brazil, respectively. The production of Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco is about 300 million kg from an area of 0.20 M ha while 450 M kg non-FCV tobacco is produced from an area of 0.25 M ha. In the global scenario, Indian tobacco accounts for 10% of the area and 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 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. The institute has six Regional Stations at Guntur, Kandukur, Jeelugumilli (Andhra Pradesh, Vedasandur(Tamil Nadu), Hunsur (Karnataka) and Dinhata (West Bengal) and a Burley Tobacco Research Centre(BTRC) at Kalavacharla, Andhra Pradesh.

Improving the Yield 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 this institute and Regional Stations solving various problems associated with the cultivation of different types. The All India Coordinated Research Project on Tobacco (AINRPT) was sanctioned by the ICAR in April, 1970 with four main centers namely Rajahmundry and Pusa (CTRI), Shimoga and Anand, and five sub centers namely Guntur, Hunsur and Dinhata (CTRI), Nipani and Nandyal to intensify the research on major problems of tobacco having regional and inter-regional significance. Two new centers at Berhampur (Orissa) and Araul (Kanpur, UP) were sanctioned during VII Plan and they started functioning from 1987-88 and 1988-89 respectively. Later the AICRP on Tobacco was renamed as AINRPT and merged with CTRI in August, 1998 with Director, CTRI also as the Project Co-ordinator. The new CTRI building complex was constructed with necessary infrastructural facilities during 1982 in the prime land of 15 acres given by the Government of A.P. The Institute Headquarters is located in the historical city of Rajahmundry (160 59' N, 810 47' E and 25 m above MSL) on the banks of the perennial river Godavari in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The Rajahmundry city is situated on Kolkata-Chennai Rail Route and National Highway No.5. The nearby Airport is located at Madhurapudi, 10 km away from Rajahmundry.

Today, 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 300 employees including 28 Scientists, 107 technical staff and 45 administrative and 120 other skilled support staff are working in this institute. Tobacco farmers in the country are very much benefited from the results of the research done by the Institute in the past 65 years of time.

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. About 15 states in the country grow tobacco, 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 in the country. FCV, Burley and Oriental tobacco are the major exportable types. Tobacco provides livelihood security to 36 million people including 6 million farmers and 20 million farm labour engaged in tobacco farming besides 10 million people working in processing, manufacturing and exports, in India. Bidi rolling alone provides employment to 4.4 million people and 2.2 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 4% of the country's total agri-exports and Rs.20000 crores to excise revenue which is more than 10% of the total excise revenue collection from all sources.

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 6% by volume and 0.7% by value of the world tobacco trade and 80-85% of our exports continue to be FCV alone. During the past five years, exports of tobacco and tobacco products increased by 76% and 209% in quantity and value terms, respectively. UK, Germany, Belgium, the erstwhile USSR, South Korea and South Africa are the major importers of Indian FCV tobacco accounting for more than 60% of our exports. At present, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Turkey, China and Indonesia are the competitors to India in the export market. India's share in the world cigarette exports is less than 1% only. 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, and 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 world over. 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