14ymedio, Madrid, 26 January 2023 — The price of potatoes in doubling in Cuba in 2023, as happened the previous year. The Ministry of Agriculture approved a resolution, published this Wednesday in the Official Gazette , which sets the retail price of the tuber at 11 pesos per pound; until now the cost was 5 pesos for fresh and6 for refrigerated. The change is almost identical to the one experienced in 2022, when the cost of the product rose from 3 pesos.
As then, the authorities have once again stressed that the rise in production costs, seeds and the labor force makes it necessary to take such a measure.
Alexis Rodríguez Pérez, director of Agricultural Economics and Development in the ministry, explained yesterday that the price adopted in 2022 resulted in millions in losses, a total of 200 million pesos, of which more than half was felt by the company that produces and markets seeds, “due to the increase in import prices.”
According to the official speaking at a press conference, the price per ton of seed was 12,600 pesos a year ago, while now it stands at 26,700 pesos. Fertilizer, meanwhile, has gone from 8,602 to 27,872 pesos, he claimed.
The executive highlighted that the costs “for the labor force” also increased, and reached 400 pesos per day. In addition, the technological package does not cover the necessary inputs. With the new price, the official affirmed, “no losses or subsidies from the State to the product are foreseen” and, in addition, he assured that the forecast for the cost of fuel is already included.
The document also provides for wholesale prices. The potato harvested with national seed will be set at 19,261.64 pesos per ton, while the one obtained with imported seeds will have a lower cost, 15,174.52 pesos per ton
The text specifies that the marketing margin, if any, is shared between the parties “according to their corresponding functions,” and the sales tax and subsidies for potatoes stored in refrigerators are eliminated.
The argument is almost identical to that of last year, although on this occasion no mention was made, not even in the press conference, of the American “blockade.” On the other hand, details of a very poor 2022-2023 campaign were given, in which it is planned to obtain 102,369 tons. Last year the projection was 120,914, of which 116,396 tons were achieved.
In 2001, a record of 373,682 tons was reached, high amounts that were maintained for several years until, in 2010, the sale was liberalized, that is more potatoes were sold outside the rationing system. However, bad data was recorded in 2015, with a harvest in which 123,000 tons were obtained, forcing the Government to import to meet demand, mainly from the Netherlands and Canada. In 2017, the tuber returned to the rationing system, although those bad figures from the middle of the previous decade could even be considered enviable today.
Cubans consumed 151,668 tons of potatoes last year, so the authorities will once again have to resort to massive imports of a basic product at a time when the costs of buying abroad are higher than ever.
The reaction to the announcement has not been long in coming, but has only been expressed through social networks. “In any country these excessive price increases generate mobilizations of popular protests, in Cuba we are tamed,” responds a reader of Tribuna de La Habana on Facebook. “In Cuba we are very afraid, that is the truth. They are going to kill us little by little,” agrees another.
Several citizens have lamented that their salaries and pensions have not risen, much less at the level of inflation, since the potato is a reflection of what happens with so many other products and services. Between November 2021 and the same month in 2022, food prices increased by 40% on the Island, taking into account only official data.
And the black market, oblivious to all this, maintains unimaginable prices, last week selling a pound of potatoes for between 130 and 150 pesos.
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