Farmer's Voice

Indonesia: Cigar Production On The Rise In Jember

In Jember, Indonesia, which has been producing the high-quality Besuki Na-Oogst, a kind of dark air-cured tobacco used for making cigars, since the Dutch colonial era, cigar production is on the increase, in line with the growth of the country's middle class, with the export market for the products remaining wide open,Tempo Interactivereported.

Andi K. Yuwono, a cigar enthusiast and member of the Indonesian Cigar Aficionado Community, said attributed the steady increase in the number of cigar smokers to the growth of the middle class, adding that as their status rises, people shift from cigarettes to cigars.

Kabul Santoso, former rector of theUniversityofJemberand chairman of the Jember Tobacco Commission, said it is "not easy to describe the taste of Jember cigars with only mere words," as they have "distinct taste, exceptional and unique when compared to other cigars." Indonesian leaf tobacco accounts for 37% of the global market, of which 25% is produced in Jember, he added.

Abdul Kahar Muzakkir, former director of production at State-owned plantation company Perkebunan Nusantara X (PTPN X), said the biggest market for Besuki Na-Oogst is "Europe with 92%, then theUnited Stateswith five percent andAfricawith two percent," while the domestic market "only takes in around one percent." Kuntjoro, head of PTPN X Jember Bobbin and Cigar Industrial Unit Quality Control, said the company has been producing 500,000-2.5 million cigars of various sizes each year, with around 20% of the output accounting for orders fromJapan,Australiaand some European countries, among others. 

PTPN X's Kartanegara Employees' Cooperative, which has been producing hand-rolled cigars since 1987, has an annual output  of 100,000 units. The cooperative produces at least 16 cigar brands, classified as small cigars (chopped leaves), soft filler (chopped leaves) and long filler (whole leaves).

Eny Juwita, marketing manager at Jember-based tobacco company Mangli Djaja Raja (MDR), which was founded in 1960 and produces leaf tobacco for outer and inner wrappers and fillers for the domestic and international markets, said the company began selling cigars in 2013 and currently produces 11 types under two brands,BrawijayaandErlangga, with the smallest and shortest products, know an mini cigarillos, measuring0.5 cmdiameter and5.5 cmin length and the largest measuring2 cmin diameter and15 cmin length (Tempo Interactive 6/10).