Cuba is boosting the production of tobacco, one of its main export products that could raise revenues in 2020, with the cultivation of the Burley variety for cigarette making and the creation of new centers for the processing of the plant.
The president of the Tabacuba business group, Justo Luis Fuentes, announced that work is underway to boost the production of Burley tobacco with a project to plant up to 10,000 hectares of that variety, according to the island’s media.
“The country produces more dark tobacco than Virginia tobacco, but we are going to boost the latter,” said the director of the company that manages the activity of the sector in all its phases, from agricultural, pre-industrial and industrial production to marketing, logistics and development of the product.
Fuentes said that Burley tobacco plantations―which report good quality with a high percentage of nicotine and good combustion―will increase in the western province of Pinar del Río, the main representative of this crop in the country, and also in other producing areas of the sector.
A training center, a warehouse with capacity to protect 120 tons of the leaf, ten chambers for the curing of Virginia tobacco and three tobacco processing facilities, considered a key element, were inaugurated in recent days in Pinar del Río to increase exports.
These centers are located in the municipalities of Mantua, Minas de Matahambre and Guane and join five others in the province, which produces 70% of Cuban tobacco and where the planting of almost 20,000 hectares of the crop is scheduled for the current harvest.
At the end of last December, Cuban Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil considered during Parliament’s last meeting that an increase in tobacco sales would report some 300 million dollars in income to the country.
Cuba collected more than 30,000 tons of tobacco―for the second year in a row―in the 2018 harvest, when about 300 million hand-rolled cigars―its star product― were made on the island, almost 100 million of them destined for export.
More than 130 million manufactured cigars and 14,000 million cigarettes were also produced.
The tobacco industry represents the fourth sector that contributes the most income to Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP), and export sales in 2018 reached almost 260 million dollars. The sector employs about 200,000 workers on the island, who at the height of the harvest rise to 250,000.