HAVANA – A prolonged drought in Cuba has caused the rice harvest to fall short of projections by roughly 87,000 tons, the Agriculture Ministry said.
More than 70 percent of Cuban territory has been affected by the most severe drought in 115 years, according to the National Climate Center.
As a result, the rice harvest will total around 165,000 tons instead of the expected 252,000 tons, state news agency ACN said, citing Lazaro Diaz, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s grain division.
“This has been a rough year for farmers, in particular rice growers, whose goal of supplying more rice to the economy and replacing imports is dependent on rainfall and stored water,” the official said.
Diaz said that the harvest continues, though work was suspended in recent days in the western region of the country amid heavy rains.
For 2016, the ministry projects Cuba’s rice production will reach 538,000 tons, equivalent to 60 percent of domestic demand.
Rice is a staple of the Cuban diet, with an annual average per capita consumption of 70 kilos (154 pounds), amounting to 700,000 tons for the nation, according to official data.