Thursday, December 26, 2013

Neither Fresh Milk Nor Diet Milk

Neither Fresh Milk Nor Diet Milk / Osmar Laffita Rojas
Posted on December 26, 2013

Havana, Cuba, December, – Last year 2012, the Ministry
of Agriculture reported the production of fresh milk at a level of
516,246,500 litres nationally. Out of this total, the province of
Camagüey occupied the first position with 96,299,600 litres. Followed,
at a distance, by Villa Clara with 51,794,100 litres; Sancti Spíritus
with 49,923,100 and Matanzas with 44,352,800 litres.

As part of a long list of inefficiencies and unfulfilled commitments,
the state was not able to fulfill its commitment dated July 26th 2007 to
guarantee a daily litre of fresh milk to every child under 7 years.

With a few days to go to the end of 2013, this year's milk production is
not known. That silence is a sign that things aren't going well.

In most of the provinces, they are continuing with the standard sale of
3 kilos a month of powdered milk, at the subsidised price of 10 cents a
kilo. Every 10 days, children under 7 have the right to a kilo of this miik.

Not being able to guarantee the supply of fresh milk and in order to
ensure the children get the diet they need, the state had no choice but
to import thousands of tons of powdered milk whose price in the
international market was over $4,000 dollars a ton.

That imported powdered milk is also for pregnant women and those
diagnosed with chronic illness like diabetes, who get a voucher for a
kilo of powdered milk a month, whose price is similar to that sold for

It seems like the milk production in the past year has not been what was

Last August 5th, the weekly Trabajadores, official publication of the
Cuba Workers Centre (CTC) , announced the construction of a powdered
milk factory in the province of Camagüey with capacity to produce
100,000 litres of milk a day, using milk from the dairies in the
Camagüey area.

Production testing of the factory in question will be started at the end
of September.

They are putting up the new factory in the place where the old factory
was to have been in the 90's, which would have been the first powdered
milk factory in Cuba. Construction was held up for lack of funding.
Since then, the state has kept on importing powdered milk, thousands of
tons, paying tens of millions of dollars.

The powdered milk factory which they are putting up in Camagüey is
fitted with Chinese and Italian technology and its cost has reached
528,000 dollars. It should produced 2,350 tons of powdered whole and
low-fat milk a year and 1,100 tons of butter.

The newspaper Granma, on 31st August, announced that work on the project
was over 70% advanced and that at the end of September they will start
assembly of the machinery and, if there are no holdups, they forecast
completion for the end of December. But, up to now, they haven't given
any more information on this.

At the beginning of December, they announced that pregnant women and the
chronically sick in the provinces of Mayabeque, La Habana, Artemisa and
Santa Clara, who received powdered milk for their diet, by way of an
experiment, will, from January, instead of that, receive a new dairy
formula made up of casein, lacto-whey, water, and animal or vegetable
fat with different levels of protein.

On this point, the Vice Minister of Internal Trade, Bárbara Acosta, said
that this measure was taken because of the over-consumption of powdered
milk and assured the deputies that it would not be extended past the
date indicated

It seems like there was a setback in the production of milk in the
second half of this year.

In the Foreign Currency Recovery Stores* (TRD, from its Spanish
initials) they have not offered butter or condensed and evaporated milk
produced locally for months.

You only find cheese in certain supermarkets, and not always. The price
is about $15 a kilo, which is in fact prohibitive for most Cubans, whose
salary doesn't exceed $20 a month.

The official press keeps completely silent about the crisis in the
production of fresh milk. It seems like the government has ordered that
they don't touch on such a sensitive topic.

Translated by GH

*Translators note: This interesting name makes clear the government's
interest in operating stores that sell products only in hard currency;
their purpose is to "recover" the remittances sent to Cubans from family
and friends abroad. Products in these stores are generally sold at
significant markups.

23 December 2013 / Cubanet

Source: "Neither Fresh Milk Nor Diet Milk / Osmar Laffita Rojas |
Translating Cuba" -

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