We estimate that we handle between 12% (FCV) and 50% (BUR) of the annual production of flue-cured and burley tobaccos in Africa. Our tobacco leaf operations procure burley, flue-cured, dark-fired and dark air-cured tobaccos from four African countries: Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Even though tobacco utilizes less than 3% of the agricultural land in each of these countries, it is by far the most important export crop in four of them. We work with approximately 200,000 contracted farmers, mostly smallholders, across the region and we also buy from the auction floors in Malawi and in Zimbabwe.
In addition to the training and support we provide to our contracted farmers through our agronomy, forestry and labour technicians, we are also attentive to the needs of the communities where we operate, and we are both proactive and responsive in engagement in many forms. We concentrate mainly on infrastructure, education and opportunities for youth, and water, sanitation and health so that our work has a ripple effect in the communities.
We are committed to upholding the principles of Universal, and our policies reflect it. Our training enables our contracted growers to continually improve the quality of their production and their standards of living.
Rory is born and bred African. He was raised and schooled in Zimbabwe, qualifying with a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Business Management, with a concentration in Finance from the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester in the U.K. Rory currently has dual responsibilities for Universal Corporation.
He is a Regional Director for Africa, reporting back to the corporate home office in Richmond, VA., and he is the Managing Director of Mozambique Leaf Tobacco Ltda. Rory has worked within the Universal group in several African locations for over 15 years.
He considers himself very fortunate to work and have experience in the corporate agro-business sector—especially in developing countries within Africa. This is where tobacco and other crops are grown by mainly small-scale farmers, which has significant value socially, economically, and politically. Rory is very familiar with the challenge of linking developed, first world corporate market supply chain expectations with local African culture, operating conditions, and agronomic challenges.