Cuban raw sugar production has topped the previous season’s 1.4 million tonnes, according to provincial media and source reports, but will fall short of the 1.7 million tonne plan as summer weather sets in.
Just two of 13 sugar-producing provinces have met their production goals to date and most of the 50 mills remain open in a harvest scheduled to be all but over by May.
Farmers and mill workers must now battle human and machine fatigue,
falling cane yields and inclement weather that makes harvesting difficult and costly.
The season usually runs from December into May when hot and humid
weather sets in. “If Matanzas cannot make up its more than 30,000 tonne deficit of sugar, which seems most likely, it will prove yet again that the outcome of the harvest cannot be left to April and much less May,” the Communist Party daily, Granma, said in a Monday article on the western province with a plan of 153,000 tonnes.
A majority of provinces face a similar situation.
Granma last reported the harvest 18 percent behind schedule as April began, blaming breakdowns at mills and a shortage of cane due to a lack of spare parts for harvesting and transportation equipment.
Hurricane Sandy also put a dent in the harvest before it began, when the storm damaged mills and flattened cane in eastern Santiago de Cuba and Holguin provinces in late October.
“Output will probably come in at between 1.5 million tonnes and 1.6
million tonnes,” a local expert said, asking his name not be used due to a ban on talking with foreign journalists.
Local industry sources concurred, saying milling would have to continue in some cases into June, weather permitting.
Cuba consumes between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of sugar a year and has a long-standing ‘toll agreement’ to export a minimum of 400,000 tonnes a year to China.