Cuba’s Official Press Requests a Hard Hand With the Ranchers of Camagüey Who Aren’t Delivering Milk

Almost 1,800 producers in the province have not supplied a single liter of milk so far this year

The province at the moment can only guarantee milk to children under the age of seven / Adelante

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, June 7, 2024 — Of the 8,023 farmers who signed a contract with the State this year in Camagüey, more than half – about 4,198 – have failed to comply with the daily delivery of milk to the province, and, of them, 1,792 “do not deliver a single liter.”

The situation, which aggravates the already declining production of the livestock territory par excellence on the Island, was denounced this Thursday by the official press.

“The province continues to bet on increasing the delivery of milk to the industry, although at the end of May it has not achieved the definitive takeoff that was expected,” the local newspaper Adelante reports, launching an attack that does not forgive the “apathetic” farmers or the authorities, for letting the farmers get away with it and not demanding “an increase in delivery.” At the top of the list is the municipality of Guáimaro.

“The negative trend goes up. From January to May, the volumes collected in 2024 were 11,158,000 liters compared to 13,320,000 last year on the same date,” says the media. The reason for the fall by more than two million liters, it adds, is that the authorities aren’t hard enough on the farmers, “even though they know the people in each territory of the province who show apathy or disinterest for their respective contributions to the national economy.”

The newspaper even states that “the prices paid to the producers cannot be the reason,” despite the fact that on numerous occasions the farmers themselves have pointed out that the low amounts paid by Acopio* is one of the fundamental causes why livestock is unprofitable for them. But Adelante insists: they are paid 38 pesos, “the maximum per liter,” and there is even a stimulus for those who overcomply, of 70 pesos per liter.

However, the media is aware of the price of milk in the informal market, which brings more benefits to the farmers

However, the media is aware of the price of milk in the informal market, which brings more benefits to the farmers and allows them – contrary to the prices of Acopio – to face the expenses they incur on their farms. “It will be necessary to review why those who don’t comply are charged 114 pesos for each liter not delivered, because it is no secret that they can sell in the informal market at 160-170 pesos per liter, and even on some streets of the city, such as Industry, at 200 pesos, taking advantage of prices in their favor,” says the article.

In addition, it points out, the “ups and downs” of production and problems in refrigeration due to blackouts have caused the milk from the ration system’s standard family basket to be delivered only to children under seven years of age, while the product has disappeared from medical diets.

The authorities, according to the media, still hope that in the rest of the year and taking advantage of the spring – the optimal stage for production – the industry will increase from the 200,000 liters per day that are currently delivered to the 360,000 that have been achieved on other occasions. The situation, however, leaves on the ground the expectation of being able to reach the proposed 52 million liters by 2024, a goal well below that of 2023, which foresaw 69 million, although only 42 million were produced.

At the beginning of this year, when Adelante revealed those figures, they gave other reasons for the decline in the 2023 production: the salary in the industry “is much lower than what is offered by other forms of economic management, especially non-state ones.” Specifically, the authorities had promised an average monthly salary of about 5,000 pesos that ended up being less than 3,400** pesos. “Productivity was at 25%,” the provincial newspaper said at the time. Wages have not changed, but this year it is the producers who are responsible.

Translator’s notes:
*Acopio is the Cuban State Procurement and Distribution Agency
** To put this salary in perspective, the current price of a single carton of eggs (30 eggs) in Cuba is more than 3,000 pesos.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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