November 7, 1998
Japan offers $9 million to Cuba for crop losses

                  HAVANA, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Japan is offering more than $9 million to
                  Cuba to help it offset crop losses caused by drought and a hurricane, the
                  Japanese Embassy said on Saturday.

                  Of nearly $9.4 million offered, $8.6 million is a direct donation to let Cuba
                  buy some 25,000 tons of rice.

                  An additional $770,000 would be used to buy wheat and would be
                  channelled through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP),
                  which had appealed for international contributions for an emergency food aid
                  programme for Cuba.

                  The WFP appeal responded to a five-month drought in Cuba's eastern
                  provinces, which badly damaged food and export crops.

                  This was followed in late September by Hurricane Georges, which swept
                  most of the island with heavy winds and rain, killing six people and causing
                  more agricultural losses.

                  Cuban President Fidel Castro announced at the end of September the
                  government would make available additional food rations to offset
                  weather-related crop damage.

                  The Japanese Embassy said a team from Japan's international cooperation
                  agency would travel to Havana next week to consult with Cuban officials
                  about the aid.

                  Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.