Crisis in Cuba’s Tobacco Industry: Limited Production and Shortages of Premium Cigars Expected

The recent report by Granma, the Cuban state-run newspaper, revealed that Pinar del Río, the region in Western Cuba where most of the country’s premium tobacco is grown, is experiencing the worst tobacco harvest in history. The devastation was caused by Hurricane Ian, which hit the region in late September and destroyed most of Pinar del Río’s tobacco curing barns, leaving only 1,400 of the required 4,000 structures rebuilt.

Cuba had originally planned to plant around 11,000 hectares of tobacco (about 28,000 acres) for the 2022-23 season. However, due to the hurricane’s aftermath, only 5,150 hectares have been planted, leading to a shortage of wrapper leaves. To mitigate the effects of the hurricane on cigar production, efforts are being concentrated on boosting the cultivation of wrapper leaves, which are in high demand.

Despite the challenges, some cigar growers have been able to recover fully, and their farm’s quantity and quality have been unaffected. Habanos S.A., the marketing monopoly and worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars, has stated that they are working closely with Tabacuba to support the tobacco sector’s recovery and will never compromise quality for demand.

The shortage of tobacco could have a significant impact on the Cuban cigar industry, which is already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is crucial to support Cuban tobacco farmers and invest in rebuilding the infrastructure needed to sustain this iconic industry.

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