Cuba Acknowledges It Will Not be Able to Fulfill its Sugar Export Agreements

A cane worker in the a sugarcane crop in Madruga, Mayabeque. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 June 2022 — The state group Azcuba announced this Wednesday that “it will not be able to fulfill its international commitments” after one of the worst harvests in the country’s history, which will mainly affect China.

The director of communications, Dionis Pérez, insisted in a press conference that, however, “the delivery of sugar to all Cubans is guaranteed,” as the official press reported in May. At that time it was reported that only 53% of the initial forecast was produced, although yesterday, before the international press, he did not add more data.

According to the plan presented in December before the National Assembly, the forecast was that the harvest would reach 911,000 tons, of which 500,000 were destined for internal consumption and the remaining 411,000 tons had to be exported.

With the available data, 473,720 tons would have been produced: completely insufficient to even cover the national demand.

China is one of the main export markets for Cuban sugar, with an agreement through which the Asian country buys 400,000 tons a year from the island, according to official data.

Pérez admitted at the press conference that “the sector is in crisis” and mentioned the lack of fuel and fertilizers, the poor condition of the sugar mills where the raw materials and machinery are processed, as well as the delay in the start of the harvest and the rains.

“No sugarcane mill started up in November,” said the Azcuba official in a meeting with journalists at the headquarters of the business group to present an international congress on sugar and derivatives scheduled for June 20-24 in Havana.

The official added that they registered 20 critical boilers, of the 89 that ground cane in the last contest and “only 60% of the transport could be used due to lack of resources.”

He also pointed out the financial factor, among “the most influential, due to the economic blockade of the United States.” Of the 35 sugar mills that participated in the harvest, which ended on May 20, only three fulfilled their production plan.

The sugar industry, a sector classified as “strategic” for the island’s economy, has been going through a crisis for several years with production reduced to just over a million tons.

In the 2020-2021 period, when 38 mills in the country ground the cane, only 66% of the planned production of 1.2 million tons of sugar was reached.

Cuba had 156 operating factories in 1959, which in that year produced 5.6 million tons of sugar and later rose to 8 million in the best harvests, between 1970 and 1989.


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