HAVANA, Oct. 12 Agricultural production in Artemisa, a province that used to be one of Havana’s breadbaskets, has plummeted in recent years.This situation, extended to the rest of Cuba, forces the Government to import a large part of the already meager basic basket, reports the AFP agency.
Several experts have warned of the risk of food insecurity on the island. In mid-August, economist Pedro Monreal said in an X thread that “all cases are very worrying,” referring to the food that Cuba does not produce and must import.
A peasant in his sixties from the province of Artemisa who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said that his lands are “divine,” but “there is a lack of fertilizer, manure and seed” to work with. This farmer belongs to a cooperative that used to receive all inputs from the Government. He now pointed out that they have nothing “because they don’t give it.”
“We have bad tractors, we have no resources, there is no fuel, we are not receiving oil or tires. We have to till the land with a team of oxen,” said the farmer. In each municipality of Artemisa there was a collection center to store crops and market them, but “those bases almost no longer exist, there is no way to market or transport the crops,” added the farmer.
In a nearby field, Jesús, another farmer who has been working his land for 40 years, said that the yield of malanga, a tuber highly appreciated by Cubans, has fallen by half. This plantation “gives four to six bags per furrow, before it was double, but now the harvest is luck and truth,” explained Jesús.
According to official figures, agricultural production in Cuba fell 35% between 2019 and 2023. Sugar manufacturing, once an emblematic industry of Cuba, plummeted from 816,000 tons in the 2020-2021 season to 470,000 in the 2021-2022 harvest. Most of the rice and beans, basic foods of Cubans, are coming from abroad.
“We have a law on food sovereignty and there is no food, we are going to approve a law to promote livestock farming and we do not have livestock, and we have a fishing law (…) and there is no fish,” acknowledged Miguel Díaz-Canel himself. in December 2022 before the National Assembly of People’s Power.
In September, the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil, said that the Government imports “practically 100% of the family basket”, compared to 80% before the coronavirus pandemic.
Etienne Labande, representative of the World Food Program (WFP), admitted that the threat of food insecurity in this scenario is real. “There is a shortage of food produced locally and it is known that it is very complex to import to Cuba, so there is a risk,” Labande told AFP.
For Pavel Vidal, a Cuban economist and academic at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia, “if they do not bet on market logic, the reforms imposed by the Government will not bear fruit.”
According to official figures, imports in the first half of 2023 reached 4,368 million dollars, of which 1,600 million were for food and much of the remaining amount was used to acquire oil. Cuban exports only reached 1,282 million dollars.