Cuba - loss of
trading partner erodes food
Cuba has seen its economy shrink and levels of
undernourishment rise since losing its most
important trading partner with the break-up of the
former USSR. With much of its agriculture geared to
producing commodities for export (primarily sugar
and tobacco), Cuba had succeeded in reducing
undernourishment to very low levels while relying
on trade for more than half of its food.
With the end of Cuba's special trading
relationship with the USSR, daily food intake
dropped by more than 500 calories per person,
mainly because of a steep decline in food imports.
Yields for major food crops also dropped because of
a lack of imported fertilizer, but Cuba managed to
produce nearly comparable quantities by growing
food on more land.
The economic decline has increased the number of
people relying on subsidies while reducing
productivity and food intake for many workers and
their families. Continued restrictions on trade
with the United States of America add to the
country's economic difficulties.
Despite its recent problems, Cuba remains
relatively prosperous and well-fed compared to
other countries in the Caribbean and Central
America. More than half the country's roads are
paved and 95 percent of the population have access
to safe water.
Since 1993, the Cuban Government has given
priority to increasing food production and
restructuring industry. Signs have begun to emerge
that the new economic model is taking hold and
labour markets are recovering. But the transition
process is far from complete.
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