Cuban Government Blames the Weather for Worst Harvest in More Than a Century

Since the end of April, the constant rains forced most of the country’s 54 sugar mills to shut down. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 5 June 2018 – Cuba finished the 2017-2018 sugar harvest ahead of schedule and without meeting the its production targets due to the effects of weather events including an intense drought, the scourge of Hurricane Irma last year, and the rains that fell on the island in recent days.

This was reported by the directors of the Azcuba state sugar group, which heads the sector on the island, during an appearance before the Agri-Food Commission of the National Assembly of People’s Power, one of the ten belonging to that legislative body that met Monday in Havana

Industry experts calculate that the final harvest results, whose figures have not yet been disclosed, will be around 1.1 million tons of sugar compared to the 1.6 million tons initially forecast, which had recently been reduced to 1.3 million in response to the weather problems.

That data would match that of the 2009-2010 season, the worst in more than a century and considered the moment when this industry, which decades ago was the island’s economic engine, hit rock bottom.

Since then the sector has failed to take off to recreate the results of up to eight million tons that managed to reach in earlier years.

Adverse climate events marked this year’s sugar harvest from its beginning, causing delays and subsequently forcing repeated stoppages, poor industrial output and affecting the energy balance of the sugar factories, due to the poor quality of the cane, explained the first vice president of Azcuba, José Carlos Santos.

Sugar production in Cuba in Million Metric Tons, 1985 to 2017, from government sources.

These factors caused a “total deterioration” of the sugar plan indicators, added the executive, quoted by the state-run Cuban News Agency.

Since the end of April, the constant rains stopped the processing of the cane in most of the country’s 54 sugar mills, he said.

With regards to the situation of the main indicators of the industry, the executive said that the industrial output reached 98%, the behavior of the estimate of cane was 104% and the delivery of electricity to the national electric power system was 84%.

The head of Azcuba, Orlando Celso García, said in the parliamentary session on Monday that the preparations for the 2018-2019 sugarcane season will advance depending on the repairs of the plants, the equipment and the available resources.

He went on to say that the next harvest is expected to start early and will have enough raw material because 60% of the cane that milled is what is left from the current harvest.

Cuba produced some 1.8 million tons in the 2016-2017 sugar harvest.


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