Cuba is currently getting ready for the 2019-2020 sugar harvest, which will begin in November with the participation of 44 sugar factories and a production plan greater than that of the previous harvest, not met by 13% with a result of 1.3 million tons of sugar.
The grinding of the cane will begin in the second half of November at the Boris Luis Santa Coloma sugar factory, in the western province of Mayabeque, the communication manager of the Azcuba Azucarero Group, Liobel Pérez, said this Tuesday.
Repairs at the sugar factories and refineries are being carried out in phases and their compliance is considered vital to alleviate the crop’s lack of agribusiness efficiency, one of the causes of the deficit in the last harvest.
“There is a favorable performance in this activity, in which only three sugar factories have delays with respect to what has been programmed,” added the official, quoted by the state press agency Prensa Latina.
Other preparations are geared at the restoration of roads to the sugar factories, as well as the transportation of cane from the fields to the factories, by increasing the railroad’s participation.
Pérez said that the objective of these and other tasks is to guarantee the permanent flow of cane to the factories, so that they don’t have to stop due to lack of this main raw material and for them to make a high use of the milling capacities.
He also stressed that the purpose is to increase the “industrial yield,” which would represent obtaining a significant additional volume of sugar.
The sugar industry―which decades ago was called “the locomotive of the Cuban economy”―is currently considered by the island’s authorities as a “strategic” sector because it provides foreign exchange with exports of sugar, alcohols, beverages and derivatives, in addition to other products that are linked to almost every industry in the country.
The once flourishing sugar industry for several years has been going through a productive decline without being able to take off.
The 2018-2019 harvest, which in principle had been planned to produce 1.7 million tons and thus reverse the low results of previous harvests, reached 87% of the target, affected among other causes by lack of work force, the loss of industrial time, in harvesting and transportation, the poor state of roads and the weather factor.
The previous 2017-2018 harvest was marked by constant rains that paralyzed operations in most of the factories of the country, which brought forward their closure and led to the forecasted production plan of 1.6 million tons to end at just over a million, similar to that of 2009-2010, the worst in more than a century.
Since the 1990s the island’s sugar industry has suffered a drastic drop that led it to reach rock bottom with a production of 1.1 million tons in the 2009-2010 harvest.
The sector has so far failed to recover the results of up to eight million tons reached at other times, when sugar production was considered Cuba’s economic locomotive.