In the US, people used to thinking of tobacco as a quintessentially American crop, but according to the World Health Organization that all peaked in the 1960′s. Since then, the bulk of global tobacco farming has moved into Africa and Asia.
The current focus on tobacco farming in the continent of Africa is timely for two reasons. The rising Ebola virus crisis in West Africa has put the spotlight on tobacco, as one pathway to an elusive cure has emerged through an experimental drug manufactured from living tobacco plants.
As for the other reason, the Boeing partnership demonstrates how the Obama Administration’s regionalized approach to domestic energy security is being played out across the globe. The idea behind the Boeing partnership is that a growing market for tobacco jet biofuel in South Africa will make up for a shrinking market for cigarettes and other cancer-linked tobacco products.