Cuba To Invest US$200 Million To Revive Citrus Industry
HAVANA, July 5 (Bernama) — Cuba will invest US$200 million in the
Caribbean island's ailing citrus industry to increase citrus production
and re-establish it as an exporter of the tropical fruit, a top official
Luis Alberto Torres, technical director of the state-run Fruit Business
Group (BFG), told China's Xinhua news agency in an interview that the
programme is part of Cuban leader Raul Castro's wide-ranging reform
which seeks to "upgrade" the Cuban economy, including special strategies
to encourage domestic food production.
Cuba currently has 40,000 hectares cultivated with citrus. Export
revenues from juice concentrates and essential oils used for cosmetics
are worth between 20 million and 30 million dollars, while the industry
generates another 60 million dollars worth of sales in the domestic
market, Torres said.
In its heyday in 1990, the Cuban citrus industry produced a harvest of
over 1 million tons of fruit on 112,000 hectares across the island, and
citrus was one of Cuba's main export products, generating revenues of
180 million dollars a year, he said.
But with the end of the Cold War, the main export market in the former
Soviet Union collapsed, and Cuba's citrus industry fell into decay.
Efforts to rehabilitate and modernize the industry have also been
complicated by hurricanes, drought, mismanagement and the arrival of the
"yellow dragon" crop pest.
Torres said the program for the recovery of Cuba's citrus production
will require investments of between US$150 and US$200 million, and the
programme is scheduled to be carried out over the next 12 years.
The project is funded entirely by the Cuban government and does not
count on any external funding, with the first results expected to show
The investment will be used to establish a programme based on increasing
productivity through a higher density of plants per hectare. Meanwhile,
trees of new varieties will be planted to replace the old trees that
were easily affected by the yellow dragon pest.
The recovery plan also includes more encouragement to farmers for higher
production or new forms of marketing, Torres said.