Cuba Recovers from Hurricane Ian

    Image: Timothy Donahue

    Cuban tobacco farmers are working to recover after Hurricane Ian hit the region six months ago, destroying 80 percent of the country’s tobacco infrastructure, reports AP.

    When Hurricane Ian his last September, it destroyed almost everything: “Not a single tobacco house was left standing,” said Hirochi Robaina, one of the most recognized tobacco producers in Cuba. “There were no warehouses; there was no tree left. Everything broke, and at that moment, I did not believe it was possible to plant.”

    After the tragedy, Robaina was resigned to planting beans and vegetables instead of tobacco, but he changed his mind “to maintain the family tradition of a century,” and he was able to plant and grow about 2 hectares, which accounts for about 30 percent of what he had in 2022.

    Private tobacco producers have been meeting with Cuban authorities since the hurricane to secure commitments for the state to help settle debts and pay for materials to rebuild tobacco drying houses, according to AP. Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic as well as other producers have also stepped in to help Cuba recuperate.

    The planned area for tobacco planting this year is down to 9,500 ha from an initial plan of 15,000 ha, according to Enrique Blanco, agricultural director of Tabacuba. Under fabric cover, 2,100 ha of premium leaf will be grown, which Cuba hopes to use to cover export demand.