GIEWS Country Brief: Cuba 08-June-2022



Harvesting of 2022 minor season paddy and maize crops underway

Cereal import requirements anticipated at low levels in 2021/22 marketing year

High food inflation constrains access to food

Harvesting of 2022 minor paddy and maize crops underway

The harvest of the 2022 first minor season paddy and maize crops is ongoing. Production is expected at a below‑average level for the third consecutive year, due to low plantings stemming from lack of agricultural inputs. Domestic production of fertilizers in 2021 was 80 percent below the previous five‑year average and fertilizer imports in 2021 remained at low levels. The output of the 2022 minor season crops is expected to increase slightly from the record low level obtained in 2021, supported by favourable weather conditions.

Planting operations of the main paddy crop, which accounts for 70 percent of the annual production, are in progress. Weather forecasts point to average rainfall amounts during the June‑August period, with positive effects on yields. The area sown is expected to remain at a below‑average level.

Cereal import requirements anticipated at low levels in 2021/22 marketing year

Cereal import requirements in the 2021/22 marketing year (July/June) are expected at low levels of 1.9 million tonnes, reflecting the declining population since 2019 and low livestock production. Imports of maize, which account for the largest share of cereal imports, are anticipated at 760 000 tonnes, more than 10 percent below the previous five‑year average. A below‑average level of wheat imports is also expected as high international prices result in weak domestic demand.

High food inflation constrains food access

The adverse effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic had a severe impact on the country’s economy, which was already affected by stricter international sanctions imposed since 2017. After declining by 11 percent in 2020, the Gross domestic product (GDP) had a modest recovery in 2021. At the beginning of 2021, the dual exchange rate system was unified, resulting in a sharp devaluation of the Cuban peso and high inflation. According to official sources, the annual inflation rate of food items was 40 percent in April 2022. Access to food of the most households is likely to be severely affected.

Availability of food has been declining due to the low level of domestic production and imports. High international prices of mostly imported goods, including maize, wheat, vegetable oils and fuel, are likely to constrain the country’s capacity to purchase food commodities in international markets, with compounding effects on domestic supply.

However, an increase in incoming tourists in 2022 is likely to improve economic conditions by rehabilitating the tourism sector and inducing hard currency. In addition, the United States of America announced, in mid‑May, to loosen some sanctions, including the removal of the maximum threshold of remittances for families and the approval of donations to non‑family members.