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Cuban tobacco legend Robaina dead at 91

Alejandro Robaina, Cuba's best known tobacco farmer, has died at age 91, state media reported Sunday.

world Updated: Apr 19, 2010 08:13 IST

Alejandro Robaina, Cuba's best known tobacco farmer, has died at age 91, state media reported Sunday.

He was part of a family that has been growing tobacco for four generations in San Luis near Pinar del Rio in western Cuba.

Robaina is widely credited with maintaining the quality standards of Cuba's legendary cigar tobacco even after the communist revolution 50 years ago. Havana cigars have remained the world's most highly sought and expensive.

Robaina convinced revolutionary leader - and famous cigar afficianado - Fidel Castro that tobacco growing should remain in private hands, an exception on the socialist island that has not changed.

Tobacco farmers sell their production at pre-set prices to the state, which produces and sells the famous Cuban luxury good worldwide.

State-run cigar-making firm Habanos SA praised Robaina for growing "the world's best tobacco leaf." The company's Vegas Robaina brand is named the tobacco patriarch.

Robaina passed his family's farm six years ago to nephew Hiroshi but remained active in growing until his death.