14ymedio/EFE, Paraguay, 29 July 2016 – Cuban technicians will travel to Paraguay in August to study the possibilities of importing food products to the island, especially meat, dairy and soy, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Paraguay (MIC).
The delegation plans to visit two dairy plants and several refrigeration companies, where they will verify the processing of beef, pork and poultry meat.
The visit was announced by Cuba’s ambassador in Paraguay, Sidenio Acosta, who met Wednesday in Asuncion with Minister of Industry and Trade, Gustavo Leite.
At the meeting it was explained that Cuba is interested in Paraguayan cattle genetics and embryos and has already approved the authorization for the importation of soybeans, corn, wheat, rice and oil, according to a MIC.
The Cuban government also extended an invitation to Paraguayan companies to participate in future editions of multisector fairs held on the island.
Leite met last year with Vice Minister of Commerce Oscar Stark to initiate efforts to increase trade with Cuba.
According to official figures, Cuba imports products worth seven billion a year, most of which is food.
Despite the relaxations carried out by Cuban President Raul Castro since he took office in February 2008, livestock production continues to be tightly centralized on the island. In 2011, in an interview with the official weekly Workers, Omelio Borroto, director of the Institute of Animal Science (ICA), said it was “fundamental to decentralize producers and businesses” to achieve an increase in milk production.
However, four years later, at the end of 2015, the numbers pointed to a decrease in the production of cow’s milk. The numbers fell from 579 to 479.5 million liters of milk produced in the country and experts agree that the current year will show still more alarming figures due to, among other factors, the drought.
This April there was a reduction in the price of powdered milk in the hard currency stores across the island. The price of a 500-gram bag went from 2.90 to 2.80 CUC and for a one kilogram bag the price was lowered from 5.75 CUC to 5.50 CUC. This benefit has been criticized by consumers who don’t consider it significant, and has also contributed to the shortage of powdered milk on store shelves.
In the past, Cuba has imported milk from as far away as New Zealand. This situation led to Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez and Cuban president Raúl
Castro to commit in 2015 to studying the installation in Uruguay of a production plant for milk powder whose output would be destined for the island.