Tobacco Planting Begins in the Area of Cuba Most Devastated by Hurricane Ian

The 2021-2022 campaign was affected by a lack of fertilizer and other inputs necessary for the cultivation of tobacco, the country’s main agricultural export. (Granma)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 22 October 2022 — The Cuban province of Pinar del Río, known for the cultivation of the tobacco leaves of the famous Havana puros [cigars], began planting this week, despite being the area of the Island that was the most devastated by Hurricane Ian at the end of September.

According to state media this Friday, planting began on about 15,500 acres of land, and the tobacco will be mainly destined for export.

The planting program will be extended until January 31 and will be concentrated in the municipalities of San Juan y Martínez, San Luis, Pinar del Río and Consolación del Sur, considered the “tobacco massif” of the province that produces half of the most demanded tobacco leaf.

About 2,200 acres of covered tobacco — intended for the wrappers of cigars — will be planted, along with  other varieties such as Burley, Virginia and Vegas Finas, which are used in the production of pipe tobacco, will be planted, according to the delegate of Agriculture in the province, Víctor Hernández, as quoted by the state Cuban News Agency.

He said that plantings have also begun of seedbeds that were not damaged by the scourge of Hurricane Ian, which crossed Pinar del Río from south to north on September 27, where it left considerable damage to agriculture, housing, communications and electricity service.

He also specified that about 6,200 curing houses are needed — where the tobacco leaves are stored for natural drying — of the more than 10,000 that were damaged by the hurricane winds, equivalent to 90% of the approximately 12,000 in the region.

The impact of the hurricane also caused about 11,000 tons of tobacco that were in the process of curing to get wet, so many of them will have to be discarded, according to official reports.

This blow to the sector occurs at an already delicate time for the Cuban tobacco sector, which produced from January to June less than half of what was planned due to lack of basic supplies, logistical problems and breakdowns, among other problems.

The tobacco harvest, Cuba’s fourth largest income sector, went from 32,000 tons in 2017 to 25,800 tons in 2020, according to official data. The sector employs about 200,000 workers, which increases to 250,000 at the peak of the harvest.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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