Cuba Plans to Produce All the Sugar It Needs Next Year
Doreen Hemlock | Havana Bureau – South Florida Sun-Sentinel
7:43 AM EDT, July 11, 2008
Havana – Long known for sugar production, Cuba has imported refined
sugar for at least five years.
Sicne the communist-run nation shut down scores of inefficient and
money-losing sugar operations in 2002, the Caribbean nation has been
unable to supply enough of the sweetener that islanders adore in their
strong coffee. Brazil and Colombia have sold hundreds of thousands of
tons of low-grade refined sugar to the island.
Come 2009, however, Cuba aims to meet all its domestic needs for refined
sugar, as it seeks to boost output from its annual sugar harvest by at
least 25 percent over current production. This year's harvest, which
just ended, produced a 28 percent gain to 1.5 million metric tons of raw
sugar, state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported.
The move is part of a larger effort to decrease imports with locally
produced items and save foreign currency for the cash strapped nation.
The government also seeks to produce more electric and electronic items
on the island.
But boosting sugar output will require some imports. Cuba plans to buy
more combines and other equipment abroad for next season, the newspaper
said, citing a presentation by Orlando Garcia, vice minister of sugar ,
to a parliamentary commission. Most sugar now is harvested by machine,
not by hand.
Cuba missed its goal of 1.6 million metric tons for the recent harvest,
partly because of delays in obtaining imported equipment , the newsaper
The 2009 harvest would still be small compared to Cuba's sugar heyday.
As recently as the late 1980s, Cuba was the world's top sugar exporter
and No. 3 sugar producer. Harvests had commonly averaged 6 million and 7
million tons a year when the Soviet Union was its major market, trading
sugar for petroleum and other products at favorable rates.