14ymedio, Madrid, February 21, 2022 — The price of potatoes has doubled in Cuba as a result of higher production costs, authorities insist. The tuber goes from costing 3 pesos per pound of the fresh product to 5 pesos, and a new price is created for the refrigerated potato, which will be 6 pesos.
A resolution published last Saturday in the Official Gazette establishes the new price for the collection and retail sale of potatoes harvested with domestic seed at 9,196.2 cents per ton, equivalent to 423 pesos per quintal (220 pounds). The potato harvested with imported seed stands at 7,152.46 pesos per ton, or 329 pesos per quintal.
According to the Provincial Government of Havana, the price rises due to the increase in the cost of agricultural inputs that the producers take on, in addition to the increase in labor costs per employee. Regarding the creation of the new price category for refrigerated potatoes, the authorities explained that the State budgets had to assume the expense to keep the product preserved last year and that this “is not possible to maintain under current conditions.”
“The potato is a demanding crop that, to achieve adequate yields, requires the application of imported fertilizers and pesticides, so its production is carried out under complex conditions,” says the official newspaper Tribuna de La Habana, which resorts to using the US embargo and the pandemic to justify the increase.
The newspaper indicates that for this February the sale and distribution of 2 pounds of fresh potatoes is approved, in a rationed manner and recorded in the ration book.
Potato production has fallen notably in recent years on the island. In 1996, Cuba exported the tuber, which had been rationed for years, after reaching a production record of 348,000 tons. In 2010, its sale was even liberalized and potatoes were sold in the unrationed market, but in 2015 the harvest stood at 123,000 tons and the Government had to import to meet demand, which led to rationing it later, in 2017.
This decrease in production has been reflected in the ’under the counter’ sales of the product, which was sold at 2 and 3 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos) for 5 pounds in the informal market. Currently, they are asking up to 450 pesos for 6 pounds.
Since the pandemic began, the situation has worsened even more and the lines to buy potatoes exceed the hours available in the day, generating riots and disputes.
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