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Cuban sugar company CEO says drought has damaged crop

Cuban sugar company CEO says drought has damaged crop
Source: Reuters – Tue, 6 Oct 2015 18:14 GMT
By Marc Frank

HAVANA, Oct 6 (Reuters) – The worst drought in a century has damaged
Cuban sugar cane set for harvesting in the coming months, though recent
rainfall means output could still top the previous harvest, the
president of the state-run sugar monopoly said on Tuesday.

Cuba produced 1.9 million tonnes of raw sugar during the 2014-15
harvest, 18 percent more than the previous one, and said earlier this
year it expected similar growth in the 2015-16 season, which begins in
November and stretches into May.

This year’s rainfall through August was the lowest since 1901, according
to the government, though precipitation has increased since then. Less
than 10 percent of Cuban sugar plantations are irrigated.

“Clearly the drought will have an impact on the harvest. Perhaps the
growth we expected will not be what we hoped for, but there will be an
increase,” Orlando Garcia, the CEO of AZCUBA, told Reuters on the
sidelines of an international sugar conference in Havana.

The company’s vice president, Noel Casanas, said estimates used to sign
export contracts had been postponed until the end of October.

“The drought, especially in June and July, hit us hard. Since then it
has gotten better, but no doubt there is an impact, especially in
eastern Cuba, perhaps not as disastrous as it could have been, but there
may not be the same rate of growth as in previous years,” Casanas said.

AZCUBA, formed five years ago to replace the Sugar Ministry, was founded
with the goal of reversing a long decline in output from 8 million
tonnes in 1990.

Cuba consumes between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of sugar a year and has
an agreement to sell China 400,000 tonnes annually.

Sugar was long Cuba’s most important industry and export but today ranks
eighth in foreign currency earnings behind services, remittances,
tourism, petroleum products, nickel, pharmaceuticals and tobacco
products. (Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Chizu

Source: Cuban sugar company CEO says drought has damaged crop –

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