News Column

Cuban Government Sees Decline in Food Production

May 24, 2013

The Cuban government says it has seen a dramatic and unexplained drop in the harvest of vegetables and fruit in the first three months of the year.

In a report, the Cuban National Statistics Office (ONE) gave no reason for the production decline, despite government reforms to increase production in the Spanish-speaking country that spends more than $1.5 billion on food imports.

ONE said overall agricultural production with the exception of sugarcane, declined by 7.8 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the first three months of 2012. Plantains dropped by 44.2 percent, potatoes by 36 percent ,citrus by 33.9 percent, "other tubers" plunged by 58.4 percent, corn production fell by 22.5 per cent, beans by 7 percent and fruit by 13.9 percent.

But there was an increase of 8.4 percent in garden vegetables and 2.5 percent increase in rice. The cattle sector grew by 16.8 percent, however milk production dropped by 19 percent.

Data was based on information received from state farms, cooperatives controlled both by the state and private farmers, and private farmers across the island's 15 provinces and the special district of Isle of Youth.

The report came despite Cuban President Raul Castro's campaign to heighten domestic food production since 2007 by leasing fallow state lands to private farmers, hiking the prices that the government pays for agricultural goods and easing state controls on the distribution networks.

Cuba now imports an estimated 80 percent of the food its people consume at a cost of more than $1.5 billion per year.

Source: Copyright BBC Monitoring Americas 2013

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