Cuba's economy is to receive a significant boost from one of its main industries, as tobacco leaf production reached 19,000 tonnes this year, the best harvest of the last decade, it was announced Tuesday in Havana. The figure represents success, but it is still far below the 30,000 tonnes from early estimates.
Next year has to be even better, said VicePresident Jose Ramon Machado after visiting various production centres in Pinar del Rio, Cuba's most westerly province and its main tobacco producer.
Tobacco exports is a major source of revenue for Cuba, netting around 450 million US dollars a year. Pinar del Rio alone brought in 13,000 tons from this harvest, albeit down from an expected 17,095 tonnes. Morales added that the harvest had been particularly good due to optimal weather conditions.
In the area of Vuelta Abajo in Pinar del Rio, 19,000 hectares are set to be sowed for the 2017-2018 season with five varieties of tobacco, which are considered more resistant to disease and provide more volume.
Premium cigars will be sold by Habanos S.A., a joint venture between the state-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, a Franco-German subsidiary of the British multinational Imperial Tobacco.
In 2016, Habanos S.A. saw income of 445 million US dollars for the sale of Cuban cigars, a 5 percent rise from 2015. The US market excluded due to the economic blockade, Habanos S.A. still accounts for 70 percent of hand-rolled cigars sold around the world, estimated at around 400 million a year. The tobacco company has a global distribution network across five continents and in over 150 countries.