Cuba’s Cigar Industry Braces for Shortages as Crops Shrink

Cuba’s primary tobacco growing region, Pinar del Río, is reportedly set to produce its smallest crop in history. This outcome would not be surprising given that the area was hit directly by Hurricane Ian in September of last year, just weeks before the planting season. The hurricane did not impact the tobacco that was already in the ground in September, but it did have long-term effects on the growing season.

The hurricane, with winds exceeding 125 mph, destroyed approximately 90% of the curing barns in Pinar del Río, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of Cuba’s total tobacco production. Additionally, Hurricane Ian destroyed over 30,000 tons of harvested tobacco. Granma, Cuba’s state-run and most-read newspaper, reports that Cuban farmers have planted only 5,150 hectares of tobacco in Pinar del Río, compared to 11,200 hectares in 2022, with less than a week left in the planting season. A hectare is approximately 2.5 acres.

Despite extending the growing season by 50 days to allow farmers more time to recover from the hurricane, the reduction in planting is reported to be massive massive, with several factors contributing to it, including over 1,000 curing barns still needing to be rebuilt, many farmers switching to other crops, emigration from Cuba, and fertilizer shortages.

Due to the reports of a significant decrease in planting, Granma referred to this year’s crop as “la más pequeña de la historia de Pinar del Río,” which means the smallest in the history of Pinar del Río. At a time when Cuban cigars are already in short supply due to staffing problems at large factories in Havana, this news is particularly troubling as it will likely drive up already record-high cigar prices.

Via Halfwheel

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