Cuba struggles to revive sugar industry

Cuba, once the top sugar exporter in the world, now relies on imports to meet domestic needs. The industry in the country is struggling to survive.

In the 2020-21 season, Cuba produced 800,000 tonnes of sugarcane which is the lowest output in 130 years and merely 10 per cent of the yield reported three decades ago.

Lazaro Manuel Torres, chief of the Antonio Sanchez mill said, “The sugar industry in the country has ended without a war.”

The USA was a traditional buyer of sugar from Cuba till 1960. After the US imposed sanctions on Cuba in the 1960s, the Soviet Union was a major importer of Cuban sugar. The country was the biggest sugar exporter in the world till 1989.

The disintegration of the USSR affected the sugar industry in Cuba in 1991 and since then the sector is crippling with now only 56 mills left in the country.

Cuba is now importing sugar to meet domestic demand.

“Sugar industry is likely to disappear if the situation continues. Since 2017, we are witnessing a decline,” said Noel Casanas, vice director of state-owned sugar producer AZCUBA.

The government is taking several measures to revive the industry but the lack of fertilizers and pesticides is affecting the sugarcane production in the country.

Sugar industry stakeholders expect foreign investment to help the revival of the sugar sector.


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