Riots in Cuba as people queue for potato quota

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Harvest hits record low, with rations in place

CUBA's potato harvest will hit record lows this year, according to a report in the Havana Times.

The country's Ministry of Agriculture has stated that national production will not cover the internal demand in 2022 and will at best reach last year’s levels.

Potato consumption in Cuba in 2019 was 151,668 tons, of which 35,272 were imported from the Netherlands and Canada. 2019 is the last year for which international statistics are available since there is no national data for 2020 and 2021.

The estimated harvest for this year is 116,396 tons, which falls  “far short from national demand” according to specialist Enel Espinosa. He said that of the area dedicated to the crop, 56% was planted “outside the ideal calendar” mainly owing to "lack of inputs,” which will make it difficult to meet demand.

It's a far cry from 1996, when Cuba was a net exporter of potatoes, reaching a production record of 348,000 tons. In 2010 the sale was released from the rationing system, but in 2015 the harvest collapsed (123,000 tons) and the Government had to import to cover the demand, which has led to rationing of potatoes since 2017.

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Since the pandemic began, the situation has worsened even more and the lines to buy potatoes are several hours long, generating riots and disputes among people to get the pounds of potatoes that the Cuban State allows them to acquire.

In February, the Government doubled the price of potatoes due to the rise in the price of agricultural products and the increase in labor costs per employee. One pound of the tuber went from three to five pesos, and six in the case of refrigerated potatoes.

A resolution published on those dates in the Official Gazette established the new price for the collection and retail sale of potatoes harvested with national seed at 9,196.2 centavos per ton, equivalent to 423 pesos per quintal (100 pounds). The potato harvested with imported seed stands at 7,152.46 pesos per ton, or 329 pesos per quintal (100 pounds).

Source: Havana Times   Photo: Adrien Delforge

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