The Miami Herald
June 29, 2001

Cuba: Sugar harvest smaller, but will yield more income

 HAVANA -- (AP) -- The latest sugar harvest was smaller than previous ones, but will yield far more income because of higher prices on the world market, the government announced Friday.

 Cuban Sugar Minister Ulises Rosales de Toro told reporters that the 2000-2001 harvest yielded 3.5 million metric tons, down from 4.05 million during the 1999-2000

 But ``we are delivering more,'' he said, because sugar now is fetching 9 U.S. cents a pound, compared with 5 cents during the last harvest.

 Officials originally had projected a yield of 3.7 million metric tons for the harvest that just wrapped up. But it was slowed, first by drought, then by usually heavy rains.

 Sugar was once the primary pillar of this communist nation's economy, and such disappointing production in the past would have been cause for government alarm.

 But Cuba has diversified its economy somewhat since losing its former socialist financial partners and preferential trade with the collapse of the former Soviet Union a
 decade ago.

 It has especially developed tourism, now the country's No. 1 hard currency earner.

 Sugar, however, remains an important income source and its size and profits remain a crucial yardstick for measuring the Cuban economy's health.

                                    © 2001