14ymedio, Havana, 2 November 2023 — The deficit of milk and the delay in its delivery to the bodegas [ration stores] continue to upset the residents of Ciego de Ávila. The authorities, for their part, acknowledged to the official press that there is little they can do to alleviate the situation, since the Dairy Products Company calculated last July a ’deficit’ of one million gallons of milk, and of the 2,000 provincial gallons that are distributed daily, about 800 come from Sancti Spíritus.
Yulema Yero Pérez de Corcho, director of the entity, explained to the newspaper Invasor that currently the greatest difficulty in the province is in the non-compliance with milk deliveries to the bodegas throughout the year, which has caused the deficit to increase significantly.
If the livestock sector served by independent producers is added, by September the figure already reached 1.2 million gallons.
The milk deficit has led leaders to demand “cattle counts” and hire as many producers as possible. The order, however, was not given until this summer, when the deficit reached several million gallons. With these figures, non-compliances with the bodegas are now foreseen, which can only guarantee the quota for children between one and seven years old, and those destined for Public Health and Education.
The most affected municipalities, according to Yero, are Baraguá, Venezuela and Bolivia, because due to “technical difficulties,” it is not possible to pasteurize milk, and it must be sent to other locations. Due to the delay in transportation, the industrial processing of dairy does not begin until midday, which translates into endless delays for the product to finally reach the bodegas.
The milk collection would be achieved one day in advance, which would easily allow the development of industrial treatment, and distribution routes would begin to be completed starting at midnight
“In conditions close to the ideal, the [milk] collection would be achieved one day in advance, which would easily allow the development of industrial treatment, and distribution routes would begin to be completed starting at midnight,” explains Invasor.
Regarding the delivery of bread, the problem, the newspaper warns, “is even greater,” since the industry depends on flour imports. The daily quota is delivered on a day-to-day basis, but there are no long-term guarantees that it will continue to be sold as soon as the current shipment runs out. In the worst case, the newspaper acknowledges, the situation of October would be repeated, when the smallest rolls were sold and there were days when it was not even marketed.
About the other products of the basic basket for November, the leaders don’t know when they will be able to count on them either. Only three pounds per person of brown sugar have been secured, and the seven pounds of rice plus one ’missing’ from the previous month’s ration will be delivered in the first half of the month, which will be free because it’s a donation. “There are still no guarantees for the rest of the products,” they say.
“There is also a need to distribute about 19 tons of peas, in the municipalities of Bolivia, Baraguá and Primero de Enero, to a total of 121 bodegas, which will be done in the coming days,” said Dianeidys Cañizares, director of the Commerce Business Group.
On those same dates, the authorities also foresee that the picadillo [ground meat] for children, medical diets and chicken for infants from zero to 13 years old (one pound) and for pregnant women (2.2 pounds) will also be delivered.
The fourth round of donation modules is currently being distributed for more than 13,000 pregnant women, underweight children and vulnerable families, consisting of two cans of sardines, 2.2 pounds of pasta and sugar, and 4.4 pounds of rice and grains. Powdered milk for infants up to six months and jams are also being delivered.
With the aggravated food crisis and the increasing dependence on imported products, the complaints and desperation of citizens to find food at affordable prices have increased exponentially. The irregular assortment of the bodegas to deliver standardized products on time – of the few that the Cuban with an average salary can afford – only increases food insecurity.
The beginning of November, with the shortage of rice, the staple food of any Cuban cuisine, and other essential products, augurs a difficult winter for Cubans, who like to make end of year family dinners, which are increasingly difficult to arrange.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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