HAVANA, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Cuban agriculture authorities on Thursday said the goal of this current season is to harvest over 34,000 tons of tobacco, despite Hurricane Michael devastating the crop in the western Pinar del Rio province.
President of the state-owned Tobacco Business Group (Tabacuba), Justo Fuentes, said the company has already signed contracts with tobacco farmers on that figure, and "the harvest must be higher in hectares, quality and yield this year."
The tobacco season began on Wednesday, with planting getting underway in the central Sancti Spiritus province, Cuba's second largest tobacco producer.
Tabacuba aims to plant over 30,000 hectares this season, which will conclude in the first months of 2019 with harvest.
Meanwhile, work is underway to recover the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in the vital Vueltabajo region of Pinar del Rio, where thousands of tobacco hectares were damaged earlier this week.
Vuetlabajo, considered to be the world's best tobacco producing region, provides some 70 percent of national tobacco production in Cuba.
The tobacco industry is the island's fourth largest employer and economic sector, providing job for around 200,000 permanent employees. At the peak of the harvest, a quarter of a million people are employed for collection.
In the 2017-2018 season, producers harvested around 30,000 tons of tobacco, an increase of 6,000 tons compared with the previous season.