Cuba To Invest US$200 Million To Revive Citrus Industry
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 07 / 05 / 2011
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 said Monday.
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 by 2013.
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.