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Cuba reaches only 53% of its sugar production plan

HAVANA ( Associated Press) — Cuba reached only half of its sugar production plan this year, which is far from the millions of tons that have made the Caribbean nation famous since colonial times, and though it has to meet the needs of its domestic market It is expected that it will not be able to meet its international commitments, the officials acknowledged.

“It’s no secret, the region is in trouble,” Dionys Perez, director of informatics, communications and analysis at Azcuba, the state group that controls sugar production on the island, told a small group of journalists on Wednesday. “This year the harvest is 53% complete.”

Perez did not want to offer the quantity that this percentage implies, but late last year Economy Minister Alejandro Gil indicated that the plan was to produce 911,000 tonnes of sugar, for which production was to end – the process in May. finished – about 482,000 tonnes which the official has now expressed.

This figure is half of the 2020-2021 campaign’s 800,000 tonnes and is the worst in at least 100 years. In the 1980s, up to eight million tons were produced of this symbolic product, which is commonly associated as part of Cuban culture and temperament.

Perez assures that it is not fair to compare those old blockbusters with the current ones. “I can’t compare with the production done in the 80s. I had 150 saplings (mills), now I have 56 and we are 54 active, and out of 54 I have harvested with only 35,” He assured. “It’s treacherous.”

In 2002, officials ordered the closure of half of the island’s 150 mills, with others later destroyed and some of the infrastructure used to repair those that were abandoned. Prior to the revolution of the 1950s the old facilities collapsed due to few spare parts, inefficient and poor maintenance, and a drop in the price of candy in the world market. This also reduced the sugarcane fields and thousands of people lost their jobs to become producers of tubers or vegetables.

According to Perez, for the 2021-2022 crop, all kinds of problems were added: a lack of herbicides or fertilizers, delays in starting some mills that weren’t ready, and even a lack of oxygen. To counteract COVID-19–to repair wear and tear, accumulated by the health sector.

There was also no fuel or spare tires as the effect of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and some supplies that had been acquired in distant markets to start industry were delayed by two months due to the logistical complications of the pandemic. Arrived, for one, a somewhat dramatic cane and sugar-like seasonal process.

At the moment a better campaign is not expected for next year, as “the same problems will occur, with the benefit that the pandemic has subsided.” Perez said even fewer sugar mills would be used, 26. According to the official, in order to “save” this sector, a plan of 93 measures is being developed to start it and this requires funding, as well as the application of technology and the application of science .

Within this framework, Pérez and the director of international relations, Lourdes Calzadilla, both promoted a Sugar and Cane Derivatives Congress for next week, in which, among other things, a new brand of rum would be presented, which would be included in its substitutes. is one of. The most important cane for the Cuban economy.

At the same time, Perez assumed that production would allow it to meet internal demand – more than 500,000 tonnes per year – but not to ship the 400,000 tonnes per year contracted by China. “We will have to negotiate again,” the official said.

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Andrea Rodriguez is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

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