Although the areas destined for tobacco planting in Cuba have been reduced by 20% due to a lack of fertilisers and inputs, officials in the sector have assured that this will not affect the strategic export of cigars.

“Difficulties arose, especially with inputs,” said Pavel Noa, head of the agricultural department of Tabacuba, the state-owned business group that manages the island’s tobacco economy.

Initially, 25,000 hectares were planned to be planted across the country, but in the end only 20,000 hectares were planted from 10 October 2021 to 31 January.

The aim was to achieve 27,000 tonnes by June, but now the figure has been set at 22,000.

“It is too difficult for things to flow the way we want them to. There is a blockade (embargo) that is there and a financial situation that is there,” he said, citing the problems created by COVID-19 and the US sanctions.

The tobacco industry is among the top four foreign exchange earners in Cuba, with sales through the joint venture HABANOS S.A., which earns some 500 million dollars a year from its cigars.

But the decline in planting and harvesting will not affect this at all, as the country has a stockpile of leaves that would cover even two years of production.

The fall in tobacco harvests is not new. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics record that the 2018 harvest was about 29,000 tonnes, in 2019 about 28,000 tonnes and in 2020 about 25,000 tonnes.