Cuba imports 60 percent of the rice its citizens consume
Havana, Jul 17, 2011 (EFE via COMTEX) — Cuba is forced to import more
than 400,000 tons of rice each year, 60 percent of the total amount of
this dietary staple consumed on the island, according to official
figures published Sunday by the daily Juventud Rebelde.
"The first challenge is to produce what we need. Although the planted
areas have been increased in recent years, we still have a long way to
go in making visible all the effort that is being expended," said the
director of the island's grain research institute, Telce Gonzalez.
Cuba in 2011 will have to import almost double the rice it produces for
consumption on the island, calculated at more than 600,000 tons.
Vietnam is Cuba's main rice provider, according to government sources.
Cuba's 11.2 million citizens each consume an average of 5 kilograms (11
pounds) of uncooked rice monthly, or 60 kilograms (132 pounds) per year.
Cuban citizens receive monthly allocations of rice on their
government-issued ration cards which they can purchase at subsidized prices.
Juventud Rebelde emphasized that half the local demand for rice is met
by purchases in foreign markets, and thus several of the country's
institutions have been mobilized to "consolidate" a program to increase
its cultivation using some 50 varieties of the grain that can be grown
in different ecosystems for maximum output.
In addition, the daily noted that Cuba for years has depended on the
international market to meet its rice needs, particularly after the
implosion of socialism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,
when the island lost its major export and import markets for capital
goods, consumables and services, a situation that resulted in the
"significant and rapid" reduction in state production of rice and other
In 2009, the Agriculture Ministry's Rice Program launched a state-run
plan that aimed to replace 29 percent of rice imports in that year with
local production and replace 56 percent by 2013.