Cuba's agriculture shows promise, expert says
BY RUI FERREIRA
El Nuevo Herald
Cuban agriculture has such a big potential that if it were to be totally
developed it could surpass the volume of production of the Free Trade
Treaty, an expert said Tuesday.
William A. Messina Jr., of the University of Florida's Agriculture
Science Institute, said that the communist island ``has such good soil
and it represents a challenge of such magnitude that, with the end of
the embargo, the agricultural market impact on the continent would be
larger that of the Free Trade Treaty.''
``The Cuban climate is very good, has good resources, and an
agricultural system with potential,'' Messina said. ``But the truth is
that we don't see big trends toward its development in terms of
The UF expert mentioned the fact that last year the hurricane season
inflicted huge harm on Cuban agriculture after the island was hit by two
hurricanes and a tropical storm. Cuba's losses amounted to $10 billion
and it lost all of its crops for the year.
The tragedy coincided with a decrease in food imports, said John
Kavulich, president of Cuba-U.S. Economic and Trade Council.
``Food and agricultural exports went down approximately 20 percent so
far this year due to the consistent lack of foreign currency in Cuba,''
Kavulich said. ``They have always opted to use that type of currency to
Messina and Kavulich came to Miami to take part in the annual conference
of the Americas, hosted by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. With
them was Carlo Dade, director of the Canadian Foundation for the
Americas, who will travel to Havana next week at a time in which the
trade links of his country with the communist island have suffered a
``At this time we see Cuba's future in terms of new opportunities,''
Dade said. ``We must continue to explore possibilities in economic
terms, since many of our joint projects have nearly disappeared.''
In his opinion, since the '90s, Canadian investments in Cuba diversified
in the areas of oil and mineral extractions, but now they are decreasing
due to the fall in prices in the case of minerals, and the lack of Cuban
investments in the case of oil.
``Our businesses have had a presence, but I can't say it's significant
at this time,'' Dade said.
According to the expert, when agricultural imports opened in Cuba, the
United States had an advantage over Canada.
``Canada is a good exporter of agricultural products, but when the
United States began to sell to Cuba, our business with Cuba changed. Our
entrepreneurs turned to other Latin American countries such as Peru and
Cuba's agriculture shows promise, expert says - Americas -
MiamiHerald.com (29 September 2009)