14ymedio 29 January 2016 — At least 43 of the 50 sugar mills taking part in the current sugar harvest are experiencing delays due to adverse weather conditions. This situation led Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee, to announce on television on Friday that “the sugar harvest is very bad.”
The official argued that first the country suffered “a severe drought that affected the estimates,” and in the current period of cane cutting, “the dampness and rain” have limited the process and paralyzed the milling in dozens of sugar mills.
“Although it can be cut, the industrial yield is low because the cane isn’t concentrated, it doesn’t have enough sugar,” said Machado Ventura, who is also vice president of the Council of State. The yield from the cane “is below what is normal for this time. Therefore, we have some affect on the harvest,” he emphasized.
The main problems with the harvest are concentrated in the western part of the country, according to the midday newscast. At least five sugar mills have had to stop their machines and another five have been unable to start the harvest because of the high levels of dampness in the fields.
“They are going to make the effort; if the weather improves they will be able to do it. They are not giving up, they can do it, they mustn’t start too soon, but we have to recognize that we are experiencing a harvest with many problems.”
Directors of the state sugar company Azcuba, which has a monopoly on sugar production on the island, had warned since November that the 2015-2016 harvest would be “special” due to the weather problems affecting the country. “We will be bringing in less cane than expected,” affirmed company specialist Dionis Perez Perez at that time.
The results of the 2014-2015 harvest have not been made fully public and the group only said that an increase of 18% over the previous harvest was achieved, although “the plan was some 4% lower than expected.” The experts put the figure at around 1.6 million metric tons of sugar (about 1.76 U.S. tons).