Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Odds and ends

  • The much-discussed, much-delayed undersea fiber optic cable that will link Cuba (from Santiago) and Venezuela and improve Cuba’s Internet capacity is closer to fruition, AIN reports. A ship carrying 1,600 kilometers of cable was preparing to depart Calais, France for Venezuela.

  • Reuters: Cuba had a $3.9 billion trade surplus in 2009, rice production dropped 12 percent, and citrus production (see story in comments) dropped 23 percent.

  • La Jornada has more on services exports’ contribution to the trade surplus.

  • Herald: Former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, co-chair of the commission that examined the BP oil spill, says the United States should talk with Cuba about environmental protection as Cuba prepares to drill for deep-water offshore oil. Speaking of drilling, Reuters reports that the rig that the Repsol-led consortium will use is now expected to arrive in Cuba in mid-summer.

1 comment:

Phil Peters said...

Disease-plagued Cuban citrus crop falls 23.1 pct

HAVANA, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Cuba's citrus production fell 23.1 percent in 2010 as disease continued to eat away at the once robust crop, the National Statistics Office reported Friday on its website (ONE.CU).
Citrus weighed in 321,600 tonnes, down from 418,000 tonnes in 2009, the Office said.
The decline reflected a 48.3 percent drop in the Valencia orange crop to 135,000 tonnes. But grapefruit registered a 24.3 percent rise to 151,000 tonnes, its first increase since storms, disease and plague first hit the sector a decade ago.
In 2008 citrus output was 391,800 tonnes, down from 469,000 tonnes in 2007 and less than half the 792,700 tonnes produced in 2003.
Local officials blamed aging groves, hurricanes and disease for the decline and have said they are working to replant and spread out orchards.
A now five-year-old attack by what is known as Yellow Dragon disease was believed to be the main reason for the poor performance. The disease, caused by a bacteria known as Huanglongbing, is the most feared in the citrus industry and can be controlled only by cutting down trees.
In the 1980s, Cuba was the world's biggest citrus fruit exporter, producing more than a million tonnes of mainly oranges and grapefruit on 120,000 hectares (296,500 acres) of land. Most of the fruit was destined for the former Soviet Union.
The crop declined, then recovered, reaching 800,000 tonnes in 2001, before beginning to decline once more.
Today, 80 percent of the crop is processed into juice by five plants across the country, 5 percent exported fresh and sold to the tourism industry, and the rest used for domestic consumption, the Agriculture Ministry reported.
Israeli-based investors, operating through the Panama-based BM Group, are heavily involved in the sector.

Cuban rice output drops despite priority status

HAVANA, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Cuba's efforts to increase rice production and cut massive imports of one of its main staples faltered in 2011 as output fell 12.2 percent, the National Statistics Office reported Friday on its website (
Production of consumable rice weighed in at 247,400 tonnes, down from 281,800 tonnes in 2009, the Office said.
President Raul Castro's cash-strapped government has embarked on a program to cut import costs by increasing the island's food production and hopes to slash rice, bean and powdered milk imports -- staples of the Cuban diet -- 50 percent by 2013.
Castro has leased fallow state lands, increased prices paid for produce, and decentralized decision making, among other measures.
Not just rice, but bean production declined significantly last year, while overall agriculture, excluding sugar, fell 2.5 percent.
Cuba imported 511,642 tonnes of rice in 2009 at a cost of $238.5 million, most of it from Vietnam, but also from various Latin American countries and the United States.
The government blamed drought in key rice producing provinces through most of last year, as well as its inefficiencies, for the poor performance of 2010.
Local analysts said the state would have to loosen further its hold on farm inputs and outputs if it hoped to meet its objectives.
Rice output jumped nearly 50 percent in 2009, leading to a decision by the Cuban government to reduce by 11 percent the rice it purchases from main supplier Vietnam Northern Food Corp.