News On 6’s Rick Wells recently traveled to Cuba with a group of local photographers and learned a lot about tobacco.
Three generations have worked on the farm he visited. They still pick tobacco by hand, selecting only leaves that are ready for harvest.
They have a contract with the government, which means the farm must handle an amount of leaves in every year.
Karina Sanchez translated during the visit.
Last year the farm produced six and a half tons of tobacco for the state-owned tobacco company.
“The leaves when they get here, they have to be here three months,” said Sanchez.
The workers bind leaves in bunches of about 25, then drape them over long poles. The poles are suspended inside one of the drying barns.
During that three-month period, the leaves dry and cure.
Each farmer is allowed to reserve a small percentage of his crop for himself. He can produce a certain number of cigars which he can smoke, sell or give away to friends.
Hand rolled Cuban cigars are prized the world over.
During part two of his Cuban adventure, Wells witnessed a farmer giving his horse a bath in an irrigation pond alongside the road. After the long day, the horse seemed to love it.
But, what the tour bus stopped to see was a hundred yards or so of red beans drying on the highway. The beans need a flat hot surface to dry.
When they are dry, the workers sweep them up into a dustpan like an object and put them into bags and load them onto trucks.
Further down the road, farmers were doing the same thing with rice. Now, you have a Cuban staple, rice and beans.