History of Tobacco Cultivation in India: From Portuguese Arrival to Thriving Crop

Tobacco, a plant with a complex and intriguing history, has left its indelible mark on India. Let’s delve into the journey of tobacco cultivation in this country, tracing its origins, challenges, and economic significance.

The Portuguese introduced tobacco cultivation to India in 1605. Initially, it was grown in the districts of Kaira and Mehsana in Gujarat. Over time, tobacco spread to other regions, becoming an essential part of India’s agricultural landscape.

The Quest for Improvement

Efforts to enhance Indian tobacco quality began with the establishment of the Calcutta Botanical Gardens in Howrah in 1787. This marked the first serious attempt to improve tobacco in India. The gardens served as a hub for research and experimentation, aiming to elevate the crop’s quality and yield.

The Impact of Indian Tobacco

Despite social disapproval and neglect, tobacco thrived in India. Today, it stands as an important commercial crop, contributing significantly to foreign exchange and excise revenue. Approximately 45 million people, including farmers, laborers, and traders, depend on tobacco for their livelihoods.

From its Portuguese origins to its current economic significance, tobacco cultivation in India has weathered challenges and continues to play a vital role in the nation’s agricultural and economic landscape.

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