FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 11/99 - Cuba

The central and western parts of the country were affected by hurricane "Irene" torrential rains and winds in mid-October. A number of victims is reported and mass evacuation of people was effected. Considerable damage to housing and infrastructure is reported, particularly in the capital, Havana, and surrounding areas. Emergency assistance for house reconstruction has been provided by the Government. A preliminary assessment of damage to the agricultural sector indicates that considerable losses have been inflicted to banana plantations, particularly in the Province of Havana. Harvesting of the spring/summer paddy crop (planted from March to August approximately) has been also affected, principally in the Province of Pinar del Rio, by the heavy rains and flooding; however, despite possible losses incurred, an above-average paddy output for the whole country is forecast. Minor foodcrops such as roots and tubers are reported to be affected. Planting of the important export earning sugar crop was interrupted, and large growing areas have been flooded, principally in the central provinces of Sancti-Spiritus, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Matanzas. No serious damage to the crop is anticipated; however, some damage to the supporting infrastructure of the sugar industry is reported. Tobacco plantations, another important export crop, were also spared of the ravage of the hurricane. The rains helped, by contrast, refill water reservoirs all over the country that had been suffering from a dry spell since November last year. Food assistance from the international community continues to be provided. About 4 400 tonnes of wheat have been delivered against a similar quantity of pledges so far.