The Pinar del Río province, located in the western part of Cuba, was almost successively hit during the last weeks by two meteoric phenomena of great intensity: Isidore and Lili hurricanes.
Vuelta Abajo zone, worldwide known as the zone where the best tobacco in the world is grown for making Habanos, is located in Pinar del Río province. Areas as San Juan y Martinez and San Luis are into this producing zone of Vuelta Abajo, both of them being essential in the growing of the tobacco leaves that are later used to manufacture the best Habanos brands.
On assesssing the damages as a result of the aforementioned phenomena we must take into consideration different points of view:
The first one is regarding the stored tobacco from former harvests that are now undergoing an ageing process before the manufacturing stage in the cigar factories. In this sense, fortunately, damages have not been reported as the facilities where this tobacco is kept, are not mostly located in the zone of influence of the hurricanes.
We are still assessing the damages caused to the tobacco harvested early this year and that was kept in tobacco and sorting houses into the zone of Pinar del Río affected by the winds and heavy rains of both hurricanes.
Damages in the tobacco facilities, i.e. tobacco houses, seedbeds etc can be considered as numerous. These damages may have influence on the tobacco planting of this year and will also be reflected in the 2002/2003 tobacco crop.
Important damages have been reported in the tobacco houses of San Juan y Martínez and San Luis, most of which have been totally destroyed.
As to the tobacco fields, fortunately those phenomena took place before the tobacco seedlings were planted and developed, since the tobacco planting stage was precisely beginning at this time.
However, we can not avoid to have significant damages in the seedbeds, both by the loss of seedlings trays as well as by the flood of some areas which were already planted. This will cause a delay in planting with a foreseeable decrease of the crop in a proportion that must still be assessed in detail.
Notwithstanding the force of the two phenomena, that affected the western part of Cuba was great, the damages mainly in tobacco facilities being significant, the Cuban authorities are undertaking a re-construction program aimed at recovering in the short term those facilities.
Likewise, the cuban tobacco growers, who make the Habano to have an unequalled prestige worldwide, are also working to minimize the negative effects so that the availability of Habanos brands in the years to come in the international markets is affected the least possible.