With milk at 20 pesos, “I have to sell 17 liters to make a dollar,” and transportation to take it to the destination costs the equivalent of 25 liters, said rancher José A. Casimiro, tag- belongs to Finca del Medio, in Siguaney (Sancti Spíritus), where he is dedicated to agroecology and permaculture. In a short interview on his Facebook account, the producer described the desperate situation of Cuban farmers in the face of the bureaucratic attack and lack of decision by the authorities.
The prices of milk and livestock are almost embarrassing for the small farmer, he added. “Where in the world can you find milk with that amount? In addition to the cost of transportation, to bring it to the collection centers of the state, which is 500 pesos. I mean just to cover the cost of transporting the milk you have to sell 25 liters of milk”.
Casimiro explained that there is no way to make money, by selling the animal or the milk. The State buys a 1,000-pound bull after the animal has been fattened for two or three years, with all expenses (transportation, health, taxes, and trips to do paperwork) and marketing implications below the cost of a pig. 47 pounds. The farmer will receive the equivalent of 47 dollars for that animal, at 14 pesos per pound. “Where’s the profit?” he asked.
Livestock farmers continue to be subject to excessive control, low prices and the obligation to sell a good portion of their production to the State.
The rancher criticized that he has been in the same conditions for 30 years, facing bureaucratic obstacles and fighting against the lack of serious decisions for rural development and productive opportunities that allow upward social peasant movement in Cuba. “If I buy an 11-ounce can of canned meat (in foreign currency stores), it costs (equivalent to) 500 pesos. It is not possible to develop agriculture, livestock, or tobacco in these conditions, including in my tobacco cultivation. Something has been broken for a long time; I did not see the light,” he concluded.
This reality largely explains the deficit of 11 million liters of milk that closes in 2023. For the official press, the problem lies with those responsible for the dairy industry; the problem, however, as Casimiro explains, is structure and background. Livestock farmers continue to be subject to excessive control, low prices, and the obligation to sell a good portion of their production to the state.
As shown by Marina, a 61-year-old woman who receives milk in a medical diet, 14 intervene In recent days, “the situation is more serious than the authorities have revealed.” Even if they “create the illusion that they distribute milk when in fact they give us a little,. What’s worse, the milk becomes too watery. You put it on the stove, and, even if it is not cut, it doesn’t boil. It stays there, steaming like water.”
Another citizen echoed the complaints, suggesting that “they add cassava starch to the milk. I don’t know what they mix with it, but my wife and I decided not to buy more.” Despite the need, “I don’t care.” “I risk giving that to my children.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered the cessation of transactions for the purchase and sale of livestock on February 15, with exceptions for the slaughter allowed for emergency health reasons or to be sold in the state. The regime intends to start a “special control” on March 1 to count the number of cattle in the country and thus “have a characteristic of the current situation of the livestock sector in Cuba.”
According to official figures, there are more than 200,000 people, natural and legal, who own cattle and buffalo, and about 167,000 who have horses. The latest Statistical Yearbook, published in 2023 with data from 2022, shows that there are 947,300 head of horses on the island and 3,516,400 cattle; this number is in contrast to the six million counted in 1958. The census This year, it is not announced better than 2023.