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November 14, 2011 13:40 PM

Cuba Takes Steps To Recover Sugar Industry

HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 14 (Bernama) — The Cuban government is currently
engaged in the process of reorganising the country's declining sugar
industry to restore its status as an important pillar of the national
, reports Xinhua news agency.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's main trade partner, raw
sugar production in the Caribbean country plummeted from 8 million
tonnes in 1990 to only 1.1 million tons in 2009, the lowest level in a

This situation has forced the Cuban government to take new steps to
revive the island's once most productive sector.

According to the Official Gazette this week, President has
signed a decree to create a new government office, Azcuba, to replace
the Ministry of Sugar to oversee the country's sugar production.

Azcuba comprises 25 provincial and service companies, including two
research institutes on sugarcane and its derivatives and a national
training centre.

The decision to abolish the ministry, which failed to meet any state
function, was taken in September during a meeting of the Council of
Ministers headed by Castro, the official Granma daily said.

According to the special provisions, functions such as the control,
protection and development of the land fund for sugarcane production
were transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The guidance and control of distributing sugarcane products and its
derivatives were passed to the Ministry of Economy and Planning, while
the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign received the order
to direct and control the sector's policy and marketing strategy.

The government also promoted a programme to modernise the century-old
sugar industry, including replacing the ancient KTP combine harvesters
of Soviet technology with more efficient Brazilian machines.

During a parliamentary session in August which analysed the country's
economic situation in the first half of 2011, Castro said his government
managed to stop the decline in sugar production.

According to the government, it aims to increase sugar production by 20
percent to 1.4 million tonnes in the coming harvest, during which sugar
mills nationwide will go into production throughout December 2011 to
January 2012.

The country currently has 56 sugar refineries, 46 of which will grind
during the next season, compared with 39 in the previous one.

According to experts, despite the dismantling of half of its sugar
refineries, Cuba still has the capability to produce 4 million tonnes of
sugar annually.

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