EFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 25 January 2018 — The cocoa harvest in Baracoa, the chocolate capital of Cuba on the eastern end of the island, fell “dramatically” in 2017. Only 200 tons of the fruit were collected, the worst result in more than 70 years, after the damage left in that area by the powerful hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
The current figures contrast with the 1,600 tons collected two years ago, when a historic peak was reached, subsequently affected by Matthew, the hurricane that devastated that portion of eastern Cuba in October 2016 and damaged the almost 9,000 acres dedicated to the crop, according to an article in the state newspaper Granma published on Thursday.
The hurricane spread its rage across the vegetation of the area, taking out the trees that gave shade to the cacao, a requirement for the optimal development of these plants.
The cocoa crops in Baracoa were beginning to recover slowly with the help of agricultural collectives from other territories, when Hurricane Irma arrived last September and “gave the coup de grace” to the 2017 harvest.
However, producers in the region expect to reach 800 tons this year and by 2020 to recover the level of production that existed prior to the hurricanes, says the official report.
Baracoa, the first village founded by the Spanish in Cuba, is located in the province of Guantanamo, about 600 miles east of Havana, and is the most isolated city in Cuba.
Known as the chocolate capital of Cuba, 85% of the cocoa that is consumed nationally comes from this area, which houses the only chocolate factory on the island, inaugurated by Ernesto Che Guevara in 1963.
Hurricane Matthew, the third most devastating hurricane to have passed through the island, hit that eastern territory on October 4, 2016 and caused damages worth 97.2 million dollars, especially in agriculture.
Almost a year later, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma left 10 dead and great destruction as it passed along the northern coast of the country.
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