Zimbabwe Tobacco History

Zimbabwe is the largest grower of tobacco in Africa, and the 6th largest grower in the world, thanks to its soils and climate. It grows some of the world’s finest flavour tobacco. Farming and marketing methods have been refined to a point where Zimbabwe is a leader in world tobacco production in terms of quality and research. Zimbabwe’s global reputation for producing, well graded flue-cured tobacco with minimal chemical residues has been repeatedly reinforced.

 Zimbabwe is one the world’s biggest flue-cured tobacco exporters, Tobacco has also been a springboard for the production of other crops and provides the best economic return per hectare amongst all the major annual crops grown in Zimbabwe.

Three types of tobacco have traditionally been grown in the country: Virginia flue-cured, Burley and Oriental tobacco. Over 95% of Zimbabwe’s tobacco consists of flue-cured tobacco, which is renowned for its flavor. The cash crop is a major part of Zimbabwe’s economy. In 2017, tobacco accounted for 11% of the country’s GDP, and 3 million of the country’s 16 million people depended on tobacco farming for their livelihood. The main export market is China, which purchased 54% of Zimbabwe’s exports in 2015.

Tobacco is harvested either leaf by leaf, in the case of Virginia and oriental tobaccos, or by the whole plant, in the case of burley. The next stage, curing, plays a major role in defining the leaf’s final quality and character. Each tobacco type is cured differently: air-curing for burleyflue-curing for Virginia, and sun-curing for oriental.

Burley tobacco tends to darken during the air-drying process, but Virginia tobacco is actually quite light in color. This lightness is reflected in its taste, which is far milder and crisper than burley tobacco. Also, while burley tobacco dries in the cold, fresh airflue-cured tobacco requires hot, dark areas to dry.

Since 1980, however, both flue-cured and Burley oriental tobacco output volumes increased steadily with flue-cured tobacco production reaching 114 million kg and burley reaching 2,5 million kg in 1986.

Local tobacco has been famous for many years for its quality, grading and presentation, as the country had established markets in more than 40 countries worldwide. 

Low labour costs and high yields made Zimbabwe a more competitive producer of quality tobacco than its Brazilian and American rivals. Tobacco production in Zimbabwe is mainly for export; only two-three percent of the total was consumed on the domestic market.  Tobacco exports grew since the 1980s, with half of Zimbabwe’s tobacco crop exported to the EU.  

Tobacco Types and Blending

The Perfect Blend of Quality and Consistency

Tobacco Blending is a Skillful Process that starts with Buying and combining exactly the right mix of Grades – getting that right is the only way to achieve the particular Taste and Quality of Cigarette Brands.

Flavors are also added in Tobacco – this could be certain ‘Top Notes’ or something a little Stronger that includes Ingredients such as Menthol or Carob bean. The use and Quantity of Flavorings may also vary according to regional preferences.

Tobacco Types

The tobacco you buy online or at your local shop is a blend of tobaccos from various parts of the world. Tobacco blenders will use different types of leaves to produce different flavors, burn rates, and mouthfeel. To create unique flavors. Tobacconists blend using the following leaves:

  • Virginia: Naturally sweet and light, it burns quick and adds a nice flavor to your smoke.
  • Burley: Slow burner that has a nutty, relatively mild flavor.
  • Perique: A Louisiana-based leaf with spicy notes.
  • Bright: A North Carolina-based leaf with a mild flavor.
  • Latakia: Hefty, smoky flavor that adds punch and color to your blend.
  • Oriental: An overall category of Middle Eastern leaves (Latakia included) that produce a bold, spicy profile.

Blenders use different proportions of some of these tobaccos to create a unique overall flavor profile. From there, tobacco blends are divided into two categories: aromatics and non-aromatics.

Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Turkish tobacco; today, its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco. Turkish tobacco is sun-cured, which makes it more aromatic and, like flue-cured tobacco, more acidic than air or smoke-cured tobacco, thus more suitable for cigarette production.


Types of Smoked Tobacco Products.

  • Cigarettes. About 5.8 Trillion cigarettes were smoked worldwide in 2014, a staggering number only overshadowed by the fact that 2015 was even worse .
  • Light and Menthol Cigarettes.
  • Cigars and Pipes.
  • Hookahs.
  • Bidis and Clove Cigarettes.