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In order to avoid imports worth millions and increase production, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG by its Spanish acronym) plans to complete in 2018 the modernization of all the machinery used in the planting, harvesting and industrial processing of rice.  
Lazaro Díaz Rodríguez, director of the Rice Division of the MINAG Agricultural Group, told reporters that a rice development program has been strengthened in the country since 2012, gradually allowing improvement of the industry for the drying, milling, storage and weigh-in of the grain.  
Diaz Rodríguez said that along with the transformations that are also carried out in this industry, investments have been made to acquire essential agricultural implements in order to continue with the development of the industry, such as tractors, combine harvesters, irrigation systems, etc.  
He also pointed out that although production levels have been increasing, this year the goal of reaching 538 000 tons of rice suitable for consumption could not be met due to the intense drought, as well as some delays presented in the investments.  
However, in 2016 about 400 000 tons of this cereal could be obtained, which represents 66 percent of what is required by the Cuban nation, which demand rises annually to 700 000 tons of rice, he stressed in the national act for the beginning of the 2016-2017rice season.  
He also stressed the importance of continuing to apply the results of science and technology in the field and to continue working with efficiency and discipline.  
Statistics show that rice is a vital food in the diet of Cubans, with an average consumption in the country of more than 70 kilograms per person per year, one of the highest in the world.  
While in the international market a ton of rice is quoted at about 500 dollars, producing it in Cuba is equivalent to 236 convertible pesos (CUC).  
Sur del Jíbaro, the most efficient company of its kind in Cuba, aims to conclude the year with the production of about 60 000 tons of rice.  (acn)

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