Our heritage

Farmer partnership for more than 100 years - a proud heritage for British American Tobacco

Buck Duke, the son of a Carolinian tobacco farmer, founded the British American Tobacco company in 1902.

Buck Duke, perhaps remembering his early roots and ambitions to perpetuate a market for tobacco farming communities, began a global expansion. He targeted China, India, Australia, and Brazil amongst others. To serve his efficient manufacturing operations, he brought his American and British tobacco farming expertise to teach local family farmers how to grow tobacco. New tobacco crops emerged during this period, many of which are still world leading today.

It all starts with the farmers. No matter where in the world, trust and continuity lead the way.

We don’t own tobacco farms, or directly employ farmers; instead, we work as partners with over 100,000 smallholder farmers worldwide. We invest more than £65 million each year and have more than 1,000 BAT leaf technicians around the world. These expert leaf technicians are an important source of advice and support for farmers, helping them to run successful, profitable and high-yielding farms. They work in the field with farmers, agreeing contracts, supplying seeds and offering advice on everything from propagation and the safe use of agrochemicals, to reducing water use, managing biodiversity and preserving natural forests. They also provide farmers with access to farming methods and technologies that might otherwise be beyond their reach, for example, new seed varieties or fuel efficient curing barns. This support covers areas of agricultural practice and growing other crops, not just tobacco farming.

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