In Brazil, tobacco is mostly grown on small holdings, with 13,7 hectares, on average, of which, only 21% are devoted to tobacco. Although occupying a small portion of the land, the crop accounts for 46,4% of the income of the family farmers (from data released by the Tobacco Growers’ Association of Brazil –Afubra).
The remaining area is devoted to alternative and subsistence crops (32%), livestock and pastureland (23%), native forests (15%), and reforestation (9%). Afubra’s survey also detects 24,3% of tobacco growing families – 2017/2018 crop estimate – who are not owners of the holding, amounting to approximately 39 thousand families growing tobacco as sharecroppers.
Aware of this profile, for decades the leaf processing companies have been encouraging the farmers toward diversifying their activities, so as not to depend exclusively on one crop. Through parallel activities, the growers cut down on family food and livestock feed costs and boost their income by selling the surpluses. It is a manner to enhance the quality of life of the family members, while contributing toward curbing the trends in the cityward drift of rural populations.
The tobacco industry in South Brazil comprises small, medium and big companies. These companies rank among the best of their kind in the world, and utilize modern concepts in terms of state-of-the-art production and industrialization equipment.
The municipalities of Santa Cruz do Sul and Venâncio Aires, in Rio Grande do Sul, are home to the biggest number of companies, resulting into the largest tobacco processing complex in the world.
In Santa Catarina and Paraná, the tobacco processing and industrialization companies are located in the towns of Rio Negro (PR), Araranguá (SC). Income generated by the industry plays a decisive role in the respective municipalities, since it creates direct positions in the industrial plants and lots of indirect jobs.
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