Cuban sugar harvest winds up at 1.4 million tonnes

Cuban raw sugar output will weigh in at 1.4 million tonnes when the last mill closes in the coming days, 16 percent above last year’s 1.2 million tonnes, state-run television reported this week.

Osiris Quintero, the director of information and analysis for industry holding company AZCUBA, told state-run media on Friday that output was at 96 percent of the 1.45 million tonnes plan, or 1.32 million tonnes with nine of 46 mills still open.

Monday evening’s report said seven mills were still open.

Heavy rainfall in recent days forced the government to mobilize

volunteers to cut cane by hand, as machinery proved useless in the mud as it strained to produce a few tonnes more before the last mill closes.

Reuters put tonnage at 1.38 million as of Sunday, based on local reports and sources, with little possibility of adding more than a few hundred tonnes.

The industry had hoped to end milling by May when the rains and hot

weather usually set in, cane yields drop and milling becomes more difficult and costly.

Nevertheless, Quintero said on Friday that the harvest proved

profitable.

“In general, the quality of sugar improved significantly. All the

provincial sugar companies, except Guantanamo, were profitable with a total of 176 million (dollars),” he said.

The Sugar Ministry was closed late last year and replaced by the

state-run holding company with subsidiaries in each province.

The company hopes to reverse a long decline in output from 8 million tonnes in 1990, and produce 2.4 million tonnes by 2015.

Cuba consumes 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of sugar annually and has a

400,000-tonne export agreement with China. Cuban sugar is also sold for export on the spot market.

Cuba has not imported sugar for a number of years.


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