Cuban family business produces coconut, cassava and banana flours while shortages worsen

Cuban family business produces coconut, cassava and banana flours while shortages worsen

HAVANA, Nov 28th.  On a small plot of land on the outskirts of Havana, a Cuban family business produces gluten-free flour from bananas,coconut and cassava, preferring these local products to expensive imported ingredients, as Cubans look for innovative alternatives as a solution to the food crisis.

Cuba buys most of the food it consumes abroad, but income has plummeted in the wake of the pandemic, hampered by U.S. sanctions and faltering tourism, once a pillar of the Caribbean island’s economy. .

This has led to looking for alternatives such as those of the designer and farmer Gabriel Pérez, 38 years old.

“There is a crisis, that is undeniable,” said Pérez, who sold a small restaurant in Havana and his house to settle on a small farm plot on the outskirts of Havana.

“But in Cuba (the crisis) is also associated with the little culture of the foods we have at hand,” he added, pointing out that Cubans prefer rice, pork and beans.

Born in mid-2020, Bacoretto’s family business is dedicated to drying and grinding cassava, rice, bananas and coconut to turn it into organic flour, preferred by gluten-intolerant consumers.

The byproducts are used to make coconut oil, coconut fibers to make ropes and fermented products with the same fruits to make sweets, breads, cookies (…), Pérez told Reuters.

Bacoretto is a small and specialized project that markets its products mainly in Havana.

Pérez, who has struggled to find financing in a country with liquidity problems, has taken advantage of the State’s decision for his business after decades of prohibition on private enterprise since shortly after the Fidel Castro revolution in 1959.

“To be profitable, technological capacity needs to be increased, better machinery is needed (…) the raw materials are dried in the sun and ground with non-industrial blenders,” he stated.