The Cuban sugar industry production is expected to grow some 20 percent by the end of the harvest underway with industrial performance and availability of cane above expectations so far, industry sources said.
AZCUBA Business Group, the state company that is responsible for sugar production, hopes to reverse a long decline in domestic output that plummeted from 8 million tons in 1990 to barely 1.1 in the 2000s and plans to produce 2.4 million tons by 2015.
The head of the media office of the entity, Leobel Perez, quoted by the weekly Business Options, said the 50 mills planned to work in this harvest will be fully operational by February.
The official reported that at the end of the harvest, sometime in May, they expect to have produced around 1.7 million tons. The Cuban industry hit bottom in the 2009-2010 harvest when it registered a production of 1.1 million tons, the worst in 105 years.
Until the first 10 days of February the harvest behavior was stable, with some very positive elements to date as having twice as much sugar than at the same period last year, he said.
However, he noted that, despite the progress and the average industrial performance was 0.30 percent above the plan, sugar production reached to date 92.2 percent, with 7.8 percent delay because some mills began grinding later than planned.
Perez was confident they will recover the deficit, as there is more than the predicted volume of cane, a growth that along with the increase of industrial performance, should translate into more sugar at the end.
That way they save cane, which is very positive because while you get more sugar per unit processed, a result that allows for certain reserves at the end of the harvest, for the cases of delays and even if rains allow it, increase the final output, he explained.
The 2011-2012 sugar harvest was the best of the past eight years in Cuba, with sugar production growing by 16 percent and decreasing the cost per ton, but the results fell short of expectations.
Among the issues of the campaign were the low utilization of manufacturing capacity, the late start of 21 of the 46 mills involved in the harvest and high levels of breaks and interruptions in the industry.
The sugar industry, which for decades was the main industry of the island suffers from severe disinvestment and now represents about 5 percent of foreign currency revenues of the Caribbean nation.
Eight of Cuba’s sugar mills were built in the 1970s and 1980s, but the rest dates from before 1959, and the obsolescence of the technology became unprofitable and requires heavy investment to be rehabilitated.
The current plan of economic reforms in the country designated as priority objectives of this industry the sustained increase of cane production, the improvement of the relationship between the sugar mill and sugarcane producers, and diversification, taking into account the multiple derivatives process.
In this harvest for the first time a Cuban sugar mill operates under foreign administration, as in the case of the Cinco de Septiembre, located in the central province of Cienfuegos, operated by a Brazilian company, which also make investments to recover manufacturing capabilities of industry and sugarcane production in its areas.