On October 11, tobacco farmers in Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Río, renowned for the quality of its crop, began planting. The region is the country’s largest producer.
According to Enrique Cruz, sector director in the province, a little over 17,000 hectares are being dedicated to the traditional crop this year, with the participation of both the private and state sectors.
Locally varieties of Criollo, Criollo 98 and Corojo 2006, and Habana 92 will be planted across the area, where plantings have been expanded as part of the tobacco development program.
Cruz highlighted the willingness of tobacco farmers to begin planting early as a way of tackling the drought situation affecting the entire country.
Pinar del Río, which supplies the fillers and outside wrappers of all Cuban made cigars, is looking to increase yields and the quality of the leaves, in order to meet industry demands.
During the previous harvest the western province produced 16,449 tons of tobacco, a figure which is expected to increase by 2020, through expanding the cultivation area to 20,000 hectares.
PLANTING ALSO UNDERWAY IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA
The planting of 220 hectares of tobacco began October 10 in the municipality of Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba province; efforts which will continue through December as part of the current 2015-2016 campaign.
Sector workers will sow the Corojo 2006 variety, considered by specialists to be highly productive and resistant to pests and disease, while yields of the crop are predicted to exceed the 112 tons achieved in the previous harvest.
Ninety hectares will be planted during the current campaign, guaranteeing yields of 1.03 tons per hectare, and meeting national expectations.
Luis Vinent, president of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in the province, gave details about efforts undertaken by producers to revive tobacco production given that it is one of the main pillars of the national economy in the cooperative and farming sector.
Workers at the Palmarejo Basic Unit of Cooperative Production in Contramaestre and 136 private producers, go to painstaking lengths to ensure the survival and healthy development of the seedlings, the effectiveness of which has already been proven by an increase in yields.
Some 12 hectares are ready to be planted, now with better soil preparation and improved propagation conditions across seed and watering beds.
IMPACT OF U.S. BLOCKADE ON CUBAN TOBACCO INDUSTRY
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government on Cuba greatly impacts this sector of the island’s economy, given that the U.S. premium tobacco market is the most important in the world - constituting 65% of the global market.
It is estimated that if Cuban tobacco - internationally renowned for its excellent quality - could be exported to the U.S., the first year alone would see total sales of 50 million units, which translates to 133,400,000 dollars in lost revenue.