HAVANA, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Cuban authorities are expecting the delivery of around 19,000 tons of tobacco leaf this year, after seeing the best harvest of the last decade.
Despite this success, Vice-President Jose Ramon Machado called for tobacco producers to keep working hard, as tobacco exports is a major source of revenue for Cuba, netting around 450 million U.S. dollars a year.
"The year to come has to be even better," commented Machado this week after visiting various production centers in Pinar del Rio, Cuba's most westerly province and its main tobacco producer.
A specialist from the Tabacuba group, Virginio Morales, told journalists that this province alone brought in 13,000 tons from this harvest, albeit down from an expected 17,095 tons.
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.
The work is hard under the hot Cuban sun but the sowing of tobacco is a family tradition passed down from father to son. The 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 U.S. dollars for the sale of Cuban cigars, a 5 percent rise from 2015.
Without being able to sell cigars in the U.S. due to the ongoing American 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.