An Update on Tobacco in Cuba


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Land (in orange) at the North is being reoriented to plant high quality fillers and binders. The little yellow area on the left is known by its reputation for good filler leaves as well as cigarette tobacco.

Orange Brown/Pinar Del Rio region. Renowned plantations/districts such as La Perla de Llevada, Cuchillas de Barbacoa, La Fe, Santa Damiana, the outskirts of Pinar, El Corojo…to name a few are simply the finest (Districts of San Luis and San Juan...where the best Ligero comes from. Brown Section).

The green areas are the Partido region, three years ago expanded to Matanzas where the climate is similar to Pinar del Rio but not the soil. What started as a project has been successful and they are seeing wrappers coming from Pedro Betancourt (one of the municipalities that once were cultivating cigarette tobacco).

The red areas…right…Vuelta Arriba comprising the provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos (south), Sancti Spiritus and now Ciego de Avila. The blue areas (also Vuelta Arriba) comprising the provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.

The southern part of the island is now also growing wrappers. They say more likely Vuelta Abajo than Partido. Not sure about this statement but it’s said by people whose knowledge is beyond question.

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Sounds like there is some expansion there for cigar tobacco and decentralizing production perhaps to spread the risk from hurricane damage or increase variety of leaf?

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Sounds like there is some expansion there for cigar tobacco and decentralizing production perhaps to spread the risk from hurricane damage or increase variety of leaf?

That's exactly what I was thinking.

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Land (in orange) at the North is being reoriented to plant high quality fillers and binders.

As opposed to wrapper or reoriented from a completely different (or no) crop, to be used for tobacco?

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With rapid decentralization (in highly centralized country) there is always a risk of insufficient quality control and planning. Lets hope that they will do it slowly otherwise we will get sub-average raw materials (just remember wrapper shortages and production of infamous Habana 2000 and other experimental wrappers).

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The expansion program has been going on for some time. Keep in mind, many of these areas are returning to tobacco farming for the first time since the 60's.

The real benefit of this program is diversity. People are raving about the wrappers from certain areas of the south as much for their distinctive flavour as for the magnificent quality. This can only be a good thing.

Food production is spread out throughout the country. Each region "State" supplies its capital. ie Havana predominantly looks after Havana city, Pinar Del Rio looks after Pinar. The west of the island (pinar) is the richest region in terms of soil. Food production is poorly controlled. Remarkably, one of the richest countries in terms of soil can not feed itself.

Colt, the orange areas were predominantly Burley tobacco for cigarettes.

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Interesting.

Makes me wonder, though, about food production.

If the areas used for food production were added to this map, what would it look like?

What about sugar cane? Is there much grown anymore?

Since 2003, about 75% of the sugar mills have been closed. They finally figured that that even under communism, if it costs more to produce sugar than you can sell it for, it's not a good idea. In theory, much of the land used to grow cane was to be used for going vegetables & grazing cattle. Whether that actually happened, I have no idea.

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Since 2003, about 75% of the sugar mills have been closed. They finally figured that that even under communism, if it costs more to produce sugar than you can sell it for, it's not a good idea. In theory, much of the land used to grow cane was to be used for going vegetables & grazing cattle. Whether that actually happened, I have no idea.

Interestingly, domestic food production went back some 30% last year even after Rauls changes encouraging people by allowing direct market sale (legally) and opening up new areas for farming. It is never easy. A lack of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides caused havoc for production. I am not aware if the situation has improved recently.

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The red areas are the Partido region, three years ago expanded to Matanzas where the climate is similar to Pinar del Rio but not the soil.

Correction: The green areas are the Partido region on the map. It is a common slip.

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The red areas are the Partido region, three years ago expanded to Matanzas where the climate is similar to Pinar del Rio but not the soil.

Correction: The green areas are the Partido region on the map. It is a common slip.

Thanks Punch Joe!

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Sounds like there is some expansion there for cigar tobacco and decentralizing production perhaps to spread the risk from hurricane damage or increase variety of leaf?

I heartily 2nd that. Time will have to tell to see if its a good flavour-slash-quality decision though.

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  • 5 months later...

I hope my trip in May or June happens, I just miss the island oh so much,

And the sweet senorita I spent a week with ................

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