Ciego De Avila, Cuba, Extends the Sugar Harvest Until May Due to the Lack of Fuel

The Ciro Redondo sugar mill was not able to take part in the harvest this year and remains shut down.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 March 2024 — Forced to extend the harvest until March due to ’non-compliance’ — i.e. the failure to meet the goals of the sugar plan — nothing can help the Ecuador sugar mill in Ciego de Ávila. Now it is “the lack of the essential fuel,” according to the official press this Friday, that delays the ’campaign’, aimed at the province’s own consumption. Last Tuesday it still had not exceeded 45% of the production plan, with just 3,732 tons of sugar milled.

The Ecuador mill began working in January, but with significant delays in the planting and constant breakdowns of machinery, and even with the support of the Ciro Redondo workers the deadline could not be met.

“The poor dividends in the sugar mills are joined by delays in the planting, since in the first two months of 2024 only 43% of the fuel necessary for these needs was received,” says the local media, Invasor.

Now, in order to “comply with the plan for sugar,” both the Ecuador and the Primero de Enero mills, also in Ciego de Ávila, must again extend the campaign until April and May, respectively, “as long as the usual rains of that season don’t prevent the work.”

“The poor dividends of the sugar mills are joined by arrears in the planting of the cane

Of the three sugar mills, only Primero de Enero is fulfilling the forecast for the campaign and has so far delivered 1,769 tons of sugar.

As for the Ciro Redondo sugar mill, whose entry into the harvest is an unattainable goal even for workers in the sector, it remains in a “prolonged industrial silence, waiting for the incorporation of the adjoining bioelectric plant,” on whose energy it depends.

About to finish the campaign, the province has only 16% of the planned sugar, and, according to the media, “the material deficiencies that hinder the progress of manufacturing operations” are the main cause. The measures promoted in the sector so far “depend on the will of the labor groups and managers in the Ecuador mill,” who cannot stop the industry debacle on their own.

Before the extension of the harvest until April was announced, the workers of the mill had already predicted in February the disaster for sugar in the province. “The most hard-core predict that it will be the smallest production in more than a century of the mill’s existence,” Invasor said at the time.

The news is no better in other provinces. According to the official newspaper El Artemiseño, the 30 de Noviembre sugar mill of that province, “responsible for the manufacture of sugar corresponding to the basic basket of the provinces of Artemisa and Pinar del Río” — sold through the rationing system — as of Wednesday had produced 8% of the expected volume of sugar, about 746 tons.

“Broken harvesting machines, automotive and rail transport equipment, as well as the fuel deficit, also conspire against the development of the crop

According to Joselín Barrios Álvarez, director of the mill, the 30 de Noviembre mill could not even join the first weeks of the harvest due to a “fault in one of the three boilers,” a problem that is still “in the process of being solved,” and which they hope to have repaired by the end of this month. “As a result, we owe all the unprocessed sugar at that time. However, we plan to complete without problem the pending quantities for the basic basket of March: 1,001 tons for Pinar del Río and 934 for Artemisa,” Barrios explained.

“Broken harvesting machines, automotive and rail transport equipment, as well as the fuel deficit, also conspire against the development of the harvest, executed in a scenario of resource and financing limitations,” summarized El Artemiseño.

The manager, who acknowledges that “they are behind” but promises that the sugar mill will “be up to date,” said that he is working on “increasing the transport of cane to the mill from the reorganization of the harvest, adjusting to the available transport.” However, as in the Ecuador mill, there is little more that workers can do to revive the depressed sugar sector.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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