AHMEDABAD: A unique cooperative of tobacco farmers has been announced in Anand, Gujarat, on 5 November, the occasion of Sardar Patel Jayanti. The newly formed cooperative, called Sardar Patel AgroTech Coop Society Ltd, will support the nicotine industry, which is seen to be a new greenfield opportunity for exporters in India. This will be a first-ever initiative to help tobacco growers move up the value chain by extracting tobacco sap for nicotine production.
This announcement is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel to enable farmer participation and economic upliftment through participating in value addition agro-industries.
Bhikubhai N Patel, Chairman of the new cooperative society, said, “We are very proud to contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of sharing benefits of agro-produce value addition with the farmers. We plan to start small by associating with about a hundred tobacco farmers in Anand District, but we envisage being able to ramp up operations to cover at least a thousand farmers within the first few years. And once this model is successful, we will replicate it in other tobacco growing regions in the country.”
In Gujarat, a total of about 125 million kilograms of tobacco is produced in an area of about 65,000-85,000 hectares, with a productivity of about 1,800 kg/ha. The major tobacco types are bidi tobacco followed by chewing (lal and kala chopadia), hookah (gadaku) and rustica, which are grown in about 20,000 hectares.
Kheda, Anand and Vadodara districts account for about 90% of total production of bidi tobacco in Gujarat besides a small area in Panchmahal and Dohad districts, while in the North Gujarat Zone in Ahmedabad district, gadaku tobacco is grown in a compact area of about 500 hectares of Sanand taluka. Mehsana, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar and Sabarkantha districts mainly cultivate rustica tobacco.
There are more than 500,000 growers and another 500,000 to 600,000 traders and labourers in associated trades directly engaged in the business of growing and processing of tobacco currently. The tobacco grown in Gujarat is processed for the production of beedis, chewing tobacco, and nicotine.
The Cooperative will set up a nicotine extraction unit in Anand at Khanpur, based on indigenous technology giving better returns to the farmers for their produce. They will also gain from the global rise in demand for nicotine. Tobacco grown in Gujarat is highly suited for nicotine extraction.
India today stands among the top 3 nicotine producers in the world, and Gujarat leads the country in nicotine production. This cooperative movement for nicotine extraction, is being initiated in Anand, the same city where AMUL – one of the country’s largest dairy cooperative companies – was successful in changing the face of the district.