Located in the northwest of the country, in the Jalapa Valley. Most of the plantations are concentrated in the surroundings of Estelí and Ocotal, where they take advantage of the fertile soil and an ideal climate. Tobacco plants come from Connecticut seeds for the cigar wrappers and shoots, and from a variety of Cuban seeds for the cigar barrel and stem. Because of the regional extension and the fact that those seeds are used in both countries, Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars are often said to be similar. Since the 1960s foreign businessmen have become increasingly interested in Nicaraguan cigars, the same time during which the Joya de Nicaragua became one of the most prized cigars in all Central America.
In 1970, Cuban José Padrón transferred all his production from Miami to Nicaragua, giving a huge boost to the local industry that, however, did not last long, due to the revolution and the civil war that would destabilize the country until 1990.
The Sandinista government was not overly enthusiastic about foreign investors and traders operating on its lands, so the plantations were burned, and factories destroyed. Yet again the Cuban exiles had to flee somewhere else with a more stable environment, like Néstor Plasencia, who settled in Honduras, becoming one of the largest producers of cigars in that country.
Just like in Cuba, but more out of luck, Nicaragua’s industry got another blow, and this time a biological one, and in the early 1980s, “Blue Mold” invaded the plantations, spoiling all recent crops and further crops. The “Blue Mold” was also devastating for the rest of the Caribbean and Central American countries. In Cuba, where the infestation began, Castro even accused the United States of having waged a biological war against the Cuban socialist economy. Fortunately, the “Blue Mold” epidemic stopped fast enough during the 1990 elections, the same year that the Joya de Nicaragua re-emerged in the international market.
After all this, the country was left in ruins, and on top of that, the country had an external debt of billions of dollars, fortunately, those coming years were stable ones, and recovery came. The signature brands that fled the turmoil came back, under the tutelage of manufacturers such as Tabacos Cubanica de Padrón and Tabacos Puros de Nicaragua de Thomas Hinds things were looking good.
In 1992, the Chamorro government offered Nestor Plasencia reparations for the loss of his plantations. Plasencia then returned to Nicaragua and opened a factory in Ocotal, and, in 1995, another factory in Estelí. Nicaragua offers an abundant and cheap labor force in general, which is its main advantage. The low costs of production, including materials and labor, attract investors to the country, and even more so because the tradition of handmade cigars is meticulously maintained in the hands of Nicaraguan torcedores. We must point out that it’s not just related to the cigar industry, other businesses have outsourced their production to Nicaragua.
According to the Cigar Association of America, in recent years Nicaragua has exported more than 300 million units, just second to the Dominican Republic. At this point in time, Nicaragua is a formidable player in the industry, not just in terms of manufacturing, but also in growing tobacco. These days Nicaraguan leaves are used in many brands to find ways to spice up the experience, manufacturers from everywhere are sure to have in stock Nicaraguan leaves to diversify their blends and create new experiences. From producing 10 million units in the mid-90s to 300 million in recent years, Nicaragua is an influential country in the tropical belt and the industry.
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