HC Deb 16 December 1912 vol 45 cc1113-4W

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) what has been done by the Irish Department of Agriculture to promote the growth of tobacco in Ireland; and what Grants have been made or promised for that purpose from the Development Commissioners or other sources?


Experiments in the cultivation of tobacco in Ireland have been conducted under the supervision of the Department since its institution in 1900. The experiments made in the years 1900 to 1902, which were carried out on a number of small plots widely distributed, established the fact that good tobacco could be produced. In order to test the possibilities of the crop when grown on a commercial scale, the experiments were extended in 1904 to fifty acres, which were grown at three centres. The Department erected a tobacco-curing barn, with the requisite equipment, at each of these centres. Further experiments in the growing of tobacco on a large scale were subsequently authorised in other districts. With a view to test the suitability of tobacco as a crop for small farms a special "small growers'" scheme was put into operation in 1910. The object of this scheme is to ascertain whether small holders, who do not employ hired labour, would be disposed to grow the crop for the sake of the employment which it affords to themselves and their families. The tobacco grown by these holders is purchased, as soon as it is sufficiently cured to bear removal, by growers engaged in the old series of large scale experiments. In 1910 and in 1911 experiments were made in the growing of tobacco solely for the production of nicotine, the area cropped in each year being one acre. A qualified expert in tobacco growing is employed by the Department for the purpose of supervising all experiments and giving instruction and advice to growers. Reports on the experiments are published periodically by the Department, and a series of leaflets on the subject of the growing of tobacco in Ireland has been issued. The area of tobacco which has been cropped for the purpose of experiments in Ireland in the current year is 161¾ acres. From 1904 to 1908, inclusive, persons growing tobacco for the purpose of the authorised experiments were allowed a rebate of one-third the duty payable on their tobacco. In 1909 the system of rebate was discontinued, and instead an annual Grant of £6,000 for a period of five years was made to the Department out of which Grants are paid to experimenters. The Treasury have recently sanctioned a recommendation that a Grant of £35,000 should be made from the Development Fund to the Department for the purpose of a further experiment in the growing as well as in the rehandling and manufacturing of tobacco in Ireland. It is expected that the work in connection with this experiment, which is designed to cover a period of ten years, will commence in 1913. The Development Commissioners have expressed their willingness to recommend another Grant of a similar sum should the Department find it possible to arrange for a second experiment of the same nature.