5,000 Cuban volunteers recruited to help with coffee harvest

HAVANA, Oct. 22– More than 5,000 students and volunteers will be mobilized to help with coffee harvest in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s main producing area, to catch up with the harvest schedule, the daily Juventud Rebelde reported Tuesday, quoting an official.

Agricultural vice-delegate Manuel Arzuaga said that in the first two weeks of October, just over 240,000 cans (about 457 tons) of coffee beans were picked, representing only 32 percent of the total.

“October is vital for the harvest, because it is the month when the grain reaches its maturation peak,” he said.

He added that the government plans to increase this season’s harvest, which can reach 5,700 tons, by 34 percent compared to the previous season.

Coffee is Cuba’s main economic crop. The sector has suffered an exodus of experienced harvesters, organization problems and bureaucracy in recent years.

Since President Raul Castro took office in 2008, Cuba has tried to increase domestic coffee production as high coffee consumption costs Cuba about 40 million US dollars a year due to the purchases at the international market.

Sector authorities expect to increase coffee output to 15,000 tons in 2016 although the figure is still insufficient compared with the 24,000 tons needed to cover domestic consumption and export.corey

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