Robaina's plantation

Friday 25 January 2019

Ivan Maximo Perez Macedo (Tobacco grower & Much More) Pinar del Rio

                      Ivan Maximo Perez Macedo, known to everyone as Maximo or "El Gallego", isn't just one of the best tobacco producers in Cuba, he's also the writer of manuals regarding the topic. He is a foremost expert on tobacco and very knowledgeable on methods of cultivation and the different varieties available....Habanos comes to him for information. Maximo spends some of his time at the Research Institute of the Experimental Station of Tobacco in his municipality. He's been nominated twice for the coveted Habano's Man of the Year award (never winning) but doesn't put much stock in it. He believes that your time and effort to produce the best product possible and being successful at that is a satisfying reward in itself. For a man of his age (born: Nov. 9, 1969), he's old school passionate about tobacco and has been forever trying new ways to cultivate different strains in order to maximize quantity and quality. He alone decides which type of tobacco to grow on any given year always trying to improve his yield. You will notice in the pictures below that he has a completely different manner of planting his tobacco where he claims it ultimately gives him a larger output. He has reduced the size of his plantings considerably, allowing him to concentrated on doing a better job on a smaller plot. He believes that quality is better than quantity and is constantly working hard to produce the best product possible. He says that 2018 was a good year for tobacco but claims that in recent years, 2012 has been the best.
                    The pictures that were given to me by Maximo were mostly taken during the 2012 season. He was kind enough to give them to me and allow me to post them as there wasn't much to see there at this time in the growing was early November and they hadn't started planting yet and there was nothing in the curing barns.
                    I have the very good fortune of having a friend who lives in San Luis (not in the tobacco industry) and knows a lot of people there. Through him I was able to visit Maximo and interview him. Otherwise, finding him would have been next to impossible, for me. Maximo was a very gracious person, it was his birthday that day and still permitted us to visit. He also invited us to lunch with him but because of other plans we had to decline. Before leaving he was kind enough to allow me to give him a short interview....

1. How long have you (your family) been on this farm?
My Grandfather, who is originally from Spain, acquired this farm in 1940.

2. How large is the plot of land you use for Tobacco growing?
It used to be 28 Hectares but I have reduced it to 5.47 (13.5 acres) in order to concentrate on producing a better product.

3. How many plants will you grow this year?
Between 200,000 - 220,000

4. What type of tobacco will you be using this year?
Criollo 2010 for the wrapper and Corojo 2012 for the rest.

5. Do you smoke cigars?
It was a question I didn't have to ask because from the moment we arrived he was smoking a cigar and smokes several per day.

6. Do you grow your own seedlings?
Up until last year (you'll see in the photos below) we used to grow our own but this will be the first year that we don't.

7. Have you traveled outside Pinar del Rio or the Country?
I've traveled all over Cuba but have never left the country.

8. What has been your best year for growing tobacco?
The last great year for me has been 2012.

9. Do you have a favourite sport?
I love swimming, I used to do it when I was younger and I also like Cycling.

10. Do you grow anything else?
Yes but not right now...I do have a little corn planted at the moment.

11. Name me 3 people, dead or alive, that you would like to smoke a cigar with.
First: Winston Churchill, Second: Fidel Castro & Third: Eumelio Espino (tremendously knowledgeable on the topic of tobacco having written several books on the topic).

                There you have it, my visit with one of the top growers of tobacco in Cuba that many cigar enthusiasts don't know about, myself included. I will have to return here on my next visit to Cuba and this time take him up on his offer for lunch. I hope you enjoy the post.

PS.......Maximo has a relatively large Ranchon on his property (where he entertains guests) and is ready to receive large quantities of tourists (and has already), his farm is on what they call in Pinar del Rio, "La Ruta del Tabaco", or the Tobacco Route. However, after having been here myself, I don't know how buses can make here over the bumpy dirt roads....but apparently they have.