Towards the end of the 19th Century settled in the New Darvel Bay Tobacco Company in Lahad Datu. The Licensed by the North Borneo Chartered Company began business in a big way with tobacco farming.
Von Donop's primary task was to introduce the right type of crops for Sabah. He decided to experiment with tobacco. Sanders, a tobacco planter from Deli in Sumatra, was enlisted to explore the area south of the Marudu Bay at Bandau, Bongon and Bengkoka River in order to determine their suitability for the planting of tobacco.
The first experiment was carried out by Sanders in 1883 at the Suanlamba River near Sandakan as a project of the China Sabah Land Farming Company, a Chinese-European joint venture company that was floated in Shanghai.
The company had acquired a land concession of 40,000 acres (16,000ha) in 1882 to plant sugar cane, but decided to shift to tobacco after sugar prices experienced a sharp decline. The experiment was a success.
In 1884, the first bale of tobacco was dispatched to tobacco dealers in London and Amsterdam where it made an impact as comparable in quality to the Sumatran tobacco leaf, and was most suitable for the cigar industry as wrapper-leaf.
The success of the first bale in London and Amsterdam, however, could not save the China Sabah Company from going into liquidation as the company was already in very bad shape before the success of its tobacco came through. Nonetheless, a suitable crop in Sabah had been discovered.
Tobacco planting had given the North Borneo Company a new lease of life. It stimulated the economy as a whole and led to an improvement in the financial resources of the North Borneo Company. From a company which was operating with losses since its inception in 1881, it was able to generate sufficient income from 1890 onwards to cover its expenditures. It was due to tobacco's contribution that the company was able to pay its first dividends to its shareholders.
In 1890, tobacco exports accounted for about 30% of the state's total exports, and this increased steadily to 50% in 1891 and 60% from 1892 onwards. As a consequence of the demand for labour by tobacco estates, an influx of Chinese and later, Javanese immigrants to Sabah changed the demography of the state.
The tobacco boom was short-lived. By 1892, tobacco estates were beginning to experience difficulties. The rapid development of the crop in South-East Asia had resulted in a shortage of skilled planters and supporting staff. Being new to the industry, the companies in Sabah had to rely on the ``rejects'' of the more established companies in Deli, Sumatra. This had resulted in a decline in production quality. But it was the economic depression of the early 1890s which stalled the growth of the tobacco industry in Sabah.
As most of the companies were new, they were in constant need of funds. The credit squeeze which came with the economic depression meant that many companies simply could not go on. The problem was also exacerbated in 1892 by the introduction of the McKinley tariff in the United States. The United States, the chief importer of cigar tobacco, decided to protect its homegrown tobacco industry. This resulted in a sharp drop in demand for Sabah tobacco, and a further drop in prices.
THE LAST REMAINING STANDING
The last company from the old days was the New Darvel Bay Tobacco Plantation near Lahad Datu which wound up in 1930. After that, the tobacco industry continued on a small scale with the Imperial Tobacco Company taking over the New Darvel Bay Company's land in Segama in 1934. The tobacco leaf of Sabah was still in demand well into the 1930s as a wrapper-leaf. The Imperial Tobacco Company was revived after the war, but finally closed in 1960.
|Remaining of the Factory in 2011|
Throughout this period of development of Western tobacco companies in Sabah, the natives of the west coast maintained their cultivation of the crop. Today, tobacco is still being traded and consumed as in the olden days. The last few traces of the European tobacco industry in Sabah can still be seen today through the wrapped cheroots that are on sale in the markets or tamus, and a few old buildings which were once used to process tobacco at the present Sabah Agricultural Vocational Training Centre near Lahad Datu.
|Roofing with hard woods|
|Most of the concrete ruin but still see the hard woods standing strong|
The remaining concrete ...
|The Team from SEGI Student, iLOVEldu, SEPA and press Reporter|
|The eyes of the sunlight watching over the Factory|
|Group of iLOVElahaddatu|
Vault Safe Deposite
NOT far from the old remaining Factory building... walking distances the only remaining Vault safe deposit during the tobacco golden era..
There use to be an office for the Tobacco Company around the Factory and here were all the Financial banks located and place were they paid the workers..
Build from concrete and last longer through the years, now located and surrounding by oil palm.
|Strong Vault remain|
|Remaining Vault Safe Deposite|
|remaining of the Old Tobacco Factory in 2011|
|wild animal bones|
|Pieces of flooring|