Family basket in Cuba depends entirely on imported products

Family basket in Cuba depends entirely on imported products

HAVANA, May 24  The Minister of Internal Trade (MINCIN), Betsy Díaz Velázquez, affirmed that the family basket regulated in Cuba depends totally on imported products and updated on their delivery on the island.During an appearance on the state program Mesa Redonda, Díaz insisted that the population has doubts about why, if it is said that the products are there, they are not there when they go to the warehouse.

In response to this question, she explained that the country had six ships in operation in different ports and “they have to be unloaded and then transported to the provinces, sometimes there are cabotages to some territories. It is transported to the municipalities and, then, to the warehouses.”

Regarding “the high levels” of pending products, she said that the situation in all provinces is not the same.

In this sense, she explained that the April rice delivery was completed. In May, according to the minister, there are provinces such as Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara that have already finished the distribution.

However, this situation is not similar for territories such as Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Havana and Matanzas that have not completed their delivery, although they have the product.

Then, the director stated that “we understand what the population says, ‘what I want is for the product to be in the warehouse’, and that is our objective (…) We lost inventories, and coverage, we are depending on imports.”

At another time she recalled that in 2018, 30% of the rice consumed in Cuba was nationally produced. Now “it is very difficult to meet deadlines when you depend only on imports” and she exemplified that “unloading 4,000 tons takes about seven days, in addition to having to go to two ports.”

How is the delivery of the May ‘errands’?

In the case of rice, Díaz confirmed that from Pinar del Río to Ciego de Ávila the product is available to deliver seven pounds and “also this month there will be an additional kilogram.”

For their part, Camagüey and Las Tunas are in the process of extracting the product from a ship in the port of Nuevitas, “a process that we estimate will not conclude in May, due to the remaining days and the volumes to be extracted.

Holguín must receive a ship in the next few hours, which will allow it to deliver the rice in better time. And we have the rest of the east left, there is a ship that is on Cuban coasts, but we must have the financing to unload it and continue distribution.”

Due to this, “in the provinces from Ciego de Ávila to Guantánamo, we will not complete the seven pounds and the additional kilogram within the month, although the rice is guaranteed, it is and will be delivered,” she said.

Then, the minister stated that the delivery of the oil was completed in April, “which we had not given in March,” and hermetically preserved meat, which is given to areas that are difficult to access, was incorporated into the distribution.

“In the case of the eastern provinces, the distribution continues, due to an offer from the World Food Program, of rice, oil and grains, and there is also a distribution advancing, in some provinces we are in a sixth and in others in a seventh distribution , of products to people in vulnerable situations, pregnant women and low-weight children,” he added.

Regarding sugar, she said, she assured that in April what was due for March was completed and refined sugar was incorporated. Although what was planned was distributed, there are still some pending.

“There is the May sugar, but there is sugar to transport. Not all provinces produced the sugar required by the regulated family basket. It is a production that is very affected, there is sugar that is being moved and provinces with the largest volumes to receive, such as Santiago, Holguín, Guantánamo, Camagüey and Havana,” she reported.

In conclusion, the MINCIN minister stated that “in May the most complex thing must be to finish distributing the rice.” Nor will sugar be completed in all the provinces in the month, nor “have we distributed canned meats as we would like.”

Finally, she added that “the pea is available. The distribution of soy yogurt is affected by the energy situation. The egg was distributed. We continue to review everything we can incorporate for the summer, although the great challenge continues to be producing more food in the country.”