Tobacco is one of the important high value commercial crops grown in an area of 0.42 million hectares over 15 states in India. Presently, India stands third in production of tobacco (750 million kg) in the world after China and Brazil. The production of Flue-Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco is about 240 million kg from an area of 0.16 M ha while 510 M kg non-FCV tobacco is produced from an area of 0.26 M ha. In the global scenario, Indian tobacco accounts for 12.4% of the area and 12.3% 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. All India Coordinated Project on Tobacco was established by Indian Council of Agricultural Research in the Fourth Five Year Plan during 1970-71 with the headquarters of the Coordinating unit at Anand (Gujarat). The headquarters was subsequently shifted to 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, CTRI, Rajahmundry. A total of number of 14 centres (3 Main centres, 7 sub-centres and 4 voluntary centres) are functioning at present. The three main network centres of AINPT are located at Rajahmundry, Shivamogga, Anand and Pusa; the seven sub-centres at Nipani, Nandyal, Berhampur, Araul, Dinhata, Guntur and Hunsur. The four voluntary centers of AINPT are functioning at Ladol, Jeelugumilli, Kandukur and Vedasandur. The centres at Rajahmundry, Guntur, Hunsur, and Dinhata are functioning under the administrative control of Central Tobacco Research Institute (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.

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 241 employees including 31 Scientists, 98 technical staff and 37 administrative and 75 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 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 4% 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.

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, 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