Cuba Imports Rice it Could Produce / Osmar Laffita Rojas
Posted on October 31, 2013
HAVANA, Cuba, October www.cubanet.org – Of the approximately 770,000
tons of rice consumed by the Cuban population last year*, 440,000 were
imported from Vietnam, Brazil and the United States. As a ton of rice
trades on the world market at $450, the Cuban government had to spend
$200 million for the purchase of this food.
Two years ago, rice production was going through a severe crisis in
Cuba. There were great difficulties in the harvest due to the advanced
deterioration of agricultural machinery, lack of means to transport the
grain and the total abandonment of the roads. Inability to harvest the
rice at full maturity is a source of great losses.
There were few dryers, mills, silos and warehouses, and the vast
majority were in pitiful condition, unmaintained for years. With limited
industrial capacity and storage, some provinces were forced to send the
harvested grain to other provinces that had dryers and mills for
processing, thus incurring costs for fuel, wages, etc.
This situation resulted in low yields that did not meet the needs of the
population. The deficit in rice production was offset by foreign imports.
But as of mid-2011, the Ministry of Agriculture launched an investment
and retrofitting process to reverse the situation. The state allocated
substantial resources for the purchase of agricultural machinery and
means of transporting the grain. It embarked on a process of building
new kilns, mills, silos and warehouses, while the existing facilities
are being repaired and modernized.
Similarly, it undertook the rehabilitation of irrigation channels and roads.
Take the case of the new Guama River diversion in Pinar del Rio, which,
with El Punto Dam in the town of Consolación del Sur, ensures irrigation
of the Vuelta Abajo rice plantation through a more than 12-mile system
Since last year, the cultivation of rice in Cuba has undergone positive
changes. The provinces of Pinar del Rio, Villa Clara and Cienfuegos
reported 86,000 acres harvested in cold and spring sowings. Timely
delivery of fertilizer, herbicides, fuel, more efficient water use,
among other assurances made it possible for these three provinces to
report a production of 42,000 tons of wet rice this year, which
represents an increase of 35% relative to what was reaped by those
provinces the previous year.
In Villa Clara a mill has been built that will process 220 tons of rice
a day, and three silos were built, each with with a 1,100 ton capacity,
plus a warehouse with a capacity of 1,980 tons. With these investments,
by next year the province may end a daily transfer of 275 tons of wet
rice to Sancti Spiritus and Matanzas for industrial processing.
But not everything is going smoothly. In Los Palacios in Pinar del Rio
Province, the Air Services Company’s failure to meet its commitments in
rice planting, along with the delay in the application of fertilizers,
herbicides and insecticides, caused severe damages to this year’s
production. Rice production was down 43,700 tons and there was a
significant decrease in yields per acre.
The agricultural aviation executives argue that their priority is not
the rice companies, but spraying against mosquitoes in Havana, in the
tourist resorts of Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo, and in the city of Pinar
Osmar Laffita Rojas, email@example.com
*Translator’s note: Roughly 140 pounds per person
Cubanet, 31 October 2013
Source: “Cuba Imports Rice it Could Produce / Osmar Laffita Rojas |
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