Cubans and Tourists Are Without Bread Until the End of March, Despite a Donation of Russian Wheat

The “extension products” added to bread – such as cassava, pumpkin or rice – are not a solution, since they make up only 15% of the total necessary to make it / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 February 2024 — Once again, there is no bread in Cuba due to a lack of flour. The “complex situation,” as defined by the official press, will last until the end of March, according to Emerio González Lorenzo, president of the Food Industry Business Group.

Although the state media say that the “affects” to the basic basket began to “be reflected” this Saturday, it is something that consumers have noticed every day for months, even in establishments targeted to tourists.

Similarly, the report on national television indicates that the last shipments of raw material arrived at the end of January “and ensured the activity of mills and bakeries for most of February.” At no time does it mention that in the middle of last month, 25,000 tons of wheat donated by the Russian Government arrived.

That amount exceeds the 20,000 tons that, the authorities reported this Saturday, are necessary to cover the “standard basic basket” for a month. If this is the case, the shipment of Russian wheat should have been enough to supply the warehouses for the rest of this month and the next.

The Government, as usual, blamed the situation on the “financial restrictions basically due to the intensified blockade and the logistical limitations that Cuba suffers to bring wheat from distant markets.” However, the president of the Food Industry himself said that of the five mills that the Island has, only one, that of Cienfuegos, is operating, and it cannot produce more than 250 tons per day, of the 700 demanded by the rationed market.

The “extending products” added to bread – such as cassava, pumpkin and rice – are not a solution, since they make up only 15% of the total needed to make the food, the official media reports. Nor can they buy bread from private individuals, although the report says that “the purchase of imported flour by non-state forms of management is negotiated.” This contribution means only 3,000 tons per month, and, as González Lorenzo says, “the tons that arrive at the port will not cover the needs.”

It is not the first time that flour and, consequently, bread have been lacking on the Island. At the end of last year, the regime justified this shortage by saying that the war between Russia and Ukraine had made wheat imports more expensive, something that was denied by economists such as Pedro Monreal. Based on data from the Business Insider website, the expert claimed that the price of of the grain was at its lowest point since 2020.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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