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A fair that announces products inaccessible to Cubans

Feria, Fiagrop 2023

Havana Cuba. – These days the 24th International Agroindustrial Food Fair has been held (FIAGROP 2023) in the Havana compound of Rancho Boyeros. This is an event organized by the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), with the stated objective of promoting exports in this sector.

The bias that characterizes said fair is framed within the desperate efforts of the regime to access foreign currency income. Precisely, the head of the Island’s Economy and Planning, Alexander Gil Fernandezhas just declared that the shortage of foreign currency is the fundamental problem that prevents the macroeconomic stabilization of the country.

The first thing that ordinary Cubans find when they arrive at FIAGROP 2023 is that they cannot go to the central pavilion of the venue where the productions of companies such as Frutas Selectas, one of the mainstays of MINAGRI, are exhibited. The entrance to that place is by invitation or credential of the event.

However, what can be seen is enough to verify that we have entered a kind of virtual world, very different from the one inhabited by the population, full of deficiencies and vicissitudes.

Already in the area destined to the livestock branch we find healthy pigs exhibited by the Grupo Empresarial Ganadero (GEGAN) of the Ministry of Agriculture. They are advertised as high performance animals for meat production.

Later on we come across the site occupied by cattle. A banner explains the mission of the crosses that have given rise to the specimens on display: “Obtain a cattle breed adapted to tropical conditions, crossing the native Zebu breed with the European Holstein breed, with increased milk and meat production to meet the needs of the population, in addition to the development and testing of stallions for artificial insemination”.

FIAGROP 2023 (Photo by the author)

It is not difficult to imagine what any person can feel, who hardly sees pork on the shelves of the agricultural markets ―and when they do find it the prices are stratospheric―, or who barely knows the taste of beef, and cannot drink a glass of milk for breakfast, while contemplating those productions that the Castro authorities impudently announce. And above all with the lying tagline of “satisfying the needs of the population.”

Of course, such a shortage with respect to pork and beef, as well as milk production, is closely related to the decline experienced by pig and cattle stocks in recent times.

According to figures provided by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), in 2017 there were 3,865,000 head of cattle in the country. In 2019 the figure dropped to 3 million 817,000 heads. And the fall continued in 2020 and 2021: in the first there were 3,752,000 head of cattle, while in the second the figure dropped to 3,657,000 head of cattle.

Regarding pigs, of a total of 2 million 69,000 copies in 2017, at the end of 2021 there were only 1,750,000 copies.

The lack of food, the deaths that exceed the expected figures, as well as organizational deficiencies in the management of the offspring, have had an impact on the decrease in the stocks of these animals.

When touring FIAGROP 2023, several foreign delegations were seen, apparently interested in the products on display. What perhaps some of them do not know is that those products that Castroism intends to export are not within the reach of the average Cuban.

The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the person who issues them and do not necessarily represent the opinion of CubaNet.

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