14ymedio, Havana, 27 December 2022 — The only Cuban province in which there was no shortage of milk during 2022 has not been able to close the year with such an achievement. Rumors that Sancti Spíritus was going to withdraw the product from medical diets have been denied by the official press, which, however, confirms that in recent days it has not been possible to distribute it in several municipalities, and it will have to stop using it in some by-products to guarantee the essential amount.
“It’s true that there was a lack of milk to cover the entire demand for two or three days, but in the next few days we will make up for it. We have already started a strategy that includes leaving aside other assortments in the food-related mini-industries of La Sierpe and in the Mérida factory to send all that milk to the Sancti Spíritus industry,” Alberto Cañizares Rodríguez, general director of the Provincial Dairy Products Company Río Zaza, told Escambray.
According to the official newspaper of the province, 5,283 gallons are needed every day, just to cover medical diets and that intended for children’s consumption, and 1,321 gallons of that have been lacking. The Delegation of Agriculture and companies in the sector have started an “exchange program with producers” that means visiting them, including those who “have already fulfilled their milk delivery plan and who in their own right can make use of the surplus,” to negotiate an extra supply of milk.
In addition, those who have not delivered according to their contracts will also meet with the sector officials.
The situation of shortages affects the municipalities of Sancti Spíritus, Trinidad and part of Cabaiguán. They say the rest of the territories are supplied directly from the productive bases.
Cañizares Rodríguez said that in Sancti Spíritus — where until now there were no problems in obtaining fresh milk — there is no powdered milk to replace that supplied to the rationed basket and social consumption, and supplies are only available for children up to 12 months old, since imports have decreased.
The manager said that melted cheese and soy yogurt will continue to be made, since the necessary raw material is available, and that until the lack of liquid milk is resolved, the delivery of ice cream for social consumption in the main municipality will be guaranteed.
Indignation, meanwhile, runs through the affected municipalities. Social networks have been filled with messages in search of the lost product, especially milk powder, which is now being sold at 500 pesos for 1.1 pounds.
But speculations continue on the street, and many do not believe the official denial. “In my ration store, I was informed that the special diet milk will not be available any more until further notice,” says a network user.
Meanwhile, in Escambray itself, readers maintain that the authorities are not straight with the population. “That manager didn’t tell the whole truth; they do have powdered milk but don’t want to release it. Why do they keep it then? The provincial decision-making authorities should make an in-depth analysis and release the powdered milk they have stored,” says a commentator.
“Once again, the Government doesn’t provide timely reporting. It was the drivers of the milk cars who ’informed’ the people about the suspension of the delivery,” says another.
The article doesn’t raise any hypothesis as to why the current situation is occurring. Last week, the newspaper Invasor addressed a similar issue in Ciego de Ávila, where the shortage of milk is chronic. The directors of the sector revealed that many producers, given the non-payments of the State and the low price they get for the product, which does not even cover the costs, have decided that it is preferable to pay the fine of 10 pesos per 2.2 pounds of undelivered milk and sell it on the informal market, where they can get up to 100 pesos.
Another commentator on the official newspaper complains: “What poverty and lack of resources! I have not visited a country, no matter how underdeveloped it may be, that has to invent so much to guarantee a glass of milk to a minimum percentage of its population. That product can be found anywhere in a grocery store.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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