Tobacco: Samoa’s untapped goldmine

By Sina Filifilia Sevaaetasi ,

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INVEST IN SAMOA: Josef Baukes in front of his tobacco garden.

INVEST IN SAMOA: Josef Baukes in front of his tobacco garden. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

There is money to be made from locally grown tobacco.

And after reading reports about a plan by a Chinese-owned cigarette factory to open, Josef Baukes of Ululoloa believes that if they can do it, so can the Samoans.

Mr. Baukes insists that Samoa needs to tap into a booming market lying right beneath their feet, the tobacco industry.

Mr. Baukes grows stalks of tobacco in his garden.  

He doesn’t sell them but he gives them away to his workers or guests.  

But there is an opportunity there for people in Samoa if they take the time to work and develop a proper plan.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mr. Baukes demonstrated the simplicity of making cigarettes. The ingredients needed are few.

All one would need is tobacco seeds, cigarette tubes (which costs $2.50 USD for a packet of 100), and a machine that transmits the tobacco into the tube (estimated $20 USD).   

After the initial cost of purchasing the production items, Mr. Baukes said the “cost to manufacture one of these with the pipers is around 5 sene.”

To put things in perspective, if the cost of the production is at .05 and at a resell price of .25 sene, that leaves a profit margin of 80per cent.

And even in his old age, Mr. Baukes has proven that anyone can manufacture a cigarette, as he was able to produce one cigarette in less than 30 seconds.  

THE SUPPLIES: Cigarette tubes, tobacco leaves and a simple machine to input the tobacco into cigarette tubes.
THE SUPPLIES: Cigarette tubes, tobacco leaves and a simple machine to input the tobacco into cigarette tubes.

The interview was arranged after he contacted the Samoa Observer to display the very real possibilities of creating a booming tobacco industry in Samoa, driven by Samoans.  

 “I don’t want foreigners, I want the Samoans to do something.  That is the whole idea. Get up, there is money to be made.”

Mr. Baukes is of German decent but is a friend of Samoa and has been here since 1970’s.  

“I’ve been thinking about the Chinese setting up their factory.  The Chinese are very industrious, I must give it to them but they don’t share. I have a German background, we share.

“What makes me angry is seeing the Chinese building their factory, but the Samoans would not benefit out of it because they’re making the money but not the Samoans.  The money they make goes overseas, its not staying in Samoa. “

“What is happening here, is they don’t want the locals to manufacture these, they want to manufacture it themselves.”

Thus, Mr. Baukes wants to share his knowledge so that the Samoan people, especially the villagers in desperate need of a steady income, can start growing this crop.   

 “There is always people who smoke and there are a lot of people in the villages that complain they don’t have any money.”

“Somebody in a village or a small store and need money should do this.  There’s always people who smoke and tell them to get these things.”

Once the industry gets going, the possibilities are endless, according to Mr. Baukes.  People can begin producing cigars and more.  

He said he is willing to teach anyone who is willing to learn the craft of the trade. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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