HAVANA - Cuba predicted a smaller sugar harvest this year because of drought, one year after the island's harvest was down by a third.
The harvest for the 2004-2005 season in Cuba is expected to be just four months long, beginning in January and ending in April. Cuban sugar harvests usually begin in November or December and stretch into May or even June - a possible maximum of eight months.
Sugar Ministry official Oscar Almazan del Olmo blamed droughts for the expected smaller harvest, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Friday. He said the drought would depress sugar production in Thailand and India as well.
Cuba's 2003-2004 harvest was 2.5 million metric tons. That was down from the 2002-2003 harvest of 3.6 million metric tons.
More than a decade ago, harvests often were 6 million-7 million metric tons a year, but those have slowly declined since the collapse of the Soviet Union wiped out Cuba's most important market.
Cuba's sugar industry has been undergoing a major restructuring as officials struggle to make production more efficient.
Sugar has been replaced by tourism as the island's chief source of foreign income.