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Cuban cigar exports not at risk, official says

Havana - A one-third reduction of land devoted to tobacco cultivation should not lead to a large decrease in production of Cuba's world famous cigars, the Cuban government said Monday. "The Cuban tobacco farmers will meet their production goals in the 2009-10 season even though they have fewer areas at their disposal," Osvaldo Encarnacion, the vice president of the state tobacco company Grupo Tacuba, told the newspaper Trabajadores.

The farmers would meet their export obligations and there would also be no reductions in production for cigars and cigarettes sold in Cuba.

The communist government had earlier said the land devoted to tobacco production would decrease to 19,800 hectares from 28,200 hectares because of "financial restrictions." The global financial crisis as well as a series of hurricanes that hit the Caribbean island last year had led to a decrease in available funds, Encarnacion said.

A harvest of 22,500 tons was forecast, down from predictions of 28,200 tons. In 2008-09, Cuba produced 25,300 tons of tobacco leaves.

Source: Earthtimes