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Outright theft and under-the-table sales to private buyers are major reasons for Cuba’s record-low coffee harvest figures, official daily Granma wrote in an investigative report.

The 2009-10 coffee harvest officially yielded a record low of 6,000 tons, forcing the government to import 16,000 tons of coffee last year to meet domestic demand. This year’s production plan won’t be met either, according to the article. Natural causes and mismanagement are only part of the picture, Granma suggests, adding that a history of low prices paid by the state distributor (21 pesos per can until last year) has created a thriving illegal coffee trade.

Despite a recent boost in coffee prices to 65 pesos, illegal sales and theft by both outsiders and employees continue, the article said. Illegal buyers — unidentified by the article — offer the same price, but accept lower quality. And while service and credit cooperatives owned by small landowners are now complying with production plans, the problem continues at large state cooperatives. A crackdown is necessary, the Communist Party newspaper suggests.

“With the new price, radical change was expected in the issue,” the article says. “But it didn’t happen.”

“The solution will not be to increase prices indefinitely; rather, we have to be more rigorous in the confrontation of these violations,” the article concludes, adding that “discipline and administrative order” must be imposed.

A thriving underground trade. Photo: Granma

 


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