Pinar del Rio: A Trip to the Roots
Attendees to the 14th Habano Festival made the most of this Tuesday session as they toured the tobacco plantations of San Juan y Martinez in Pinar del Rio to hear straight from the horse’s mouth –the local planters- about all the details of this painstaking and long process that culminates with those ultimate artworks that bring so much delight among the most demanding smokers: the Habanos.
The visit is a tradition within the Habano Festival’s program, though in this year’s edition attendees enjoyed other novelties, like learning that the ongoing harvest started out with zero plowing in the shade-grown tobacco plantations. This has to do with a farming project that seeks to guarantee better soil preservation and raise yielding levels in each and every harvest.
In the Karl Marx Credit and Service Cooperative –one of the selected farms for the grand tour- we chatted with Yosvany Concepcion, a 39-year-old planter with seven harvests under his belt. He told us about his personal experience in application of the zero plowing method and praised the benefits of applying earthworm humus as organic fertilizer, not only in his own lands, but also in those of the entire cooperative.
In addition to this experience, participants also dropped by a curing barn –a key link in the Habano-making process that plays a major role in the quality of the end product. Equally attractive were the chance to watch the removal of leaf wicks, the place where tobacco leaves endure the last fermenting, curing and drying process before being shipped in bales to the cigar factories.
To top it all off, delegates were taken to the Ranchon of Palma Sola, a facility nestled in the heart of the Vuelta Abajo countryside, where they enjoyed an exquisite Cuban homemade lunch. Patrons were entertained by a traditional Cuban music band.