Sugar industry confident in a leap forward

The harvest is entering the final stage and of greatest yield with a 22 per cent increase in relation to the sugar production of a year ago.

Sugar production could this year achieve a leap with which it has been dreaming for several harvests.

Foto: Jorge Luis Baños

In mid-April Cuba achieved the largest sugar production of the last 11 years and maintains industrial yields that confirm the expectations of strong growth encouraged by the Azcuba business group. If the pace continues in the coming weeks, this could be the first time since this industry began its recovery, five years ago, in which the sector fulfilled the plans.

According to the most recent report, the 50 sugar mills grinding cane during this harvest on April 12 had produced an amount of tons similar to the total processed in the previous harvest. Though it did so 57 days ahead of time, production remains at close to 10 per cent below the plan to date. “The planned production already stands at 84 per cent,” Azcuba reported.

The business group, however, is confident it will increase the pace in the second half of April, a traditionally key month for the sector’s work, to produce all the amount of sugar previewed for the current harvest. In fact, up to the time of the report, production had grown 22 per cent in relation to the same period of the 2013-2014 harvest.

This last information is close to the 23 per cent increase the country’s sugar agribusiness had proposed compared to the last harvest. The climate, too dry for the rest of agriculture, is ideal for cutting cane and for the efficiency of the sugar factories.

These installations used to average an industrial yield of 10.28 points at the close of March, higher than what was achieved on the same date of the previous harvest, when it was 9.48. The difference in that indicator has represented some 150,000 additional tons of sugar, Liobel Pérez, specialist of Institutional Communication of Azcuba, told the press.

If the plan were to be fulfilled, production would be close to two million tons of sugar, according to an estimate calculated based on the last report of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) – 1.5 million tons in 2012. But it would especially change the face of a sector that in recent years has repeatedly been way below the production plans. With projects to grow around 20 per cent on each occasion, the 2013/2014 harvest barely increased a bit over 4.2 per cent and 8 per cent the previous one.

As in previous years, the central provinces – Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila and Cienfuegos – are the leaders of the harvest. Other provinces which have made progress are Villa Clara, also in the centre of the island, and Guantánamo and Holguín, in the eastern region. (2015)

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