HAVANA, January 14. The economic forecasts of the Cuban regime tend to come true on very rare occasions, however, experts in the sector are right
in predicting that the last harvest would be the worst in the last 125 years.
The recently concluded 2022-2023 harvest corroborated the regime’s prediction and, with its 350,000 tons of sugar, it became the worst harvest since 1898, when, in the middle of the War of Independence, Cuba’s sugar mills produced 300,000 tons.
The data confirms the brutal decline of a sector that once placed Cuba among the main sugar exporters in the world. Of the 455,198 tons that the Cuban regime intended to produce in this harvest, only 77% of what was planned was achieved.
Invited at the beginning of December to the television program Mesa Redonda, the director of the AzCuba Business Group, Julio Andrés García Pérez, explained the causes of a debacle that has its origins in the privatization undertaken by Fidel Castro in the first years of the so-called “ revolution”, and its climax with the reduction of industrial capacity decreed by him in 2002, when he ordered the dismantling of 120 of the 165 that were in operation at that time.
According to García Pérez, the lack of organization to confront crime and illegalities, the excessive burning of cane, the years of exploitation of the few plants in operation, added to the “blockade”, the “recrudescence” and the shortage of fuel and others The obstacles that these US policies entail have resulted in the worst harvest in 125 years.
The debacle of the sugar industry caused that in September, October and November of last year, one pound less sugar was distributed in the regulated family basket of four pounds per person. In addition, 30,000 tons of sugar were stopped being delivered to the food industry and plans to provide 24,647 MW of energy to the National Electric System were not fulfilled.
Cuba consumes between 600,000 and 700,000 tons of sugar annually and has also committed another 400,000 tons in a trade agreement with China. That export commitment was not fulfilled, but, according to García Pérez, the national demand for spirits and alcohols is covered.
In May 2023, AzCuba’s communications director, Dionis Pérez Pérez, acknowledged that Cuba planned to export less sugar than is consumed in the country. At the beginning of the year, the manager admitted that only 11 of the 22 mills that should have been grinding produced sugar during the campaign.
The low availability of fuel and inclement weather, together with technical deficiencies in the plants, which were detected late, due to the lack of lubricants for the tests on the planned dates, explained the failure of the government’s plans.
But these plans have been failing year after year. In the 2021-2022 campaign, the Cuban sugar industry produced 474,000 tons of sugar, for 52% compliance with the planned plan. In the previous one (2020-2021) it produced 792,000 tons, 66% of the plan.
However, according to Pérez Pérez, the next contest will be capable of guaranteeing the consumption of the regulated family basket, as well as that of social consumption, mixed companies and other sectors of the economy. Will the government of Dr. Miguel Díaz-Canel be able to correct such a distortion?