HAVANA, Feb. 24th (CNN) Looking at the plain, one-story wooden shacks that dot the countryside in Cuba’s vuelta abajo region, one would never guess that the farmers here grow one of the island’s most valuable natural resources: cigar tobacco.
Usually, the winter months are the dry season, perfect for growing and harvesting tobacco for top brands like Cohiba, Montecristo and Partagas.
The problem, he said, is the increased impact of climate change being felt on the Caribbean island.
Many of his neighbors, he said, are switching from tobacco to crops such as corn and black beans that are easier to grow. That’s like a winemaker in Napa Valley or Bordeaux deciding to stop growing grapes. For Robaina, growing anything but cigar tobacco in the place that has the best climate and soil is not an option.
But cigar experts said climate change could affect quality, as well as production.
Habanos executives said the Cuban government recognizes the impact that climate change could have on an island already vulnerable to hurricanes and coastal flooding and is responding to the potential fallout.
The Cuban government said in November that tobacco growers had designed new drying houses to cure tobacco with metal roofs, instead of wood, that were more resistant to increased wind and rainfall caused by climate change.