Granma | 06 Septmeber, 2016
Ortelio González MartínezPhoto:
Ciego de Ávila.—The Ceballos Agro-industrial Enterprise and the La Cuba Miscellaneous Crops Enterprise make the most of industrial and agricultural efficiency, required to remove the “weeds” that continue to hamper the work of many state entities.
In both, the new economic model the country is currently working toward is taking shape and making great strides, in order to meet demand and ensure success in the stormy waters of the domestic and international markets.
The appearance of Huanglongbing in 2006, a disease that affects citrus fruit, prevented all attempts to continue growing these at the Ceballos Agro-industrial Enterprise, to the point of destroying the groves spread across some 4,000 hectares.
“Not a single orange, lemon, or grapefruit tree was left standing. We were forced to remove them. Heaven and earth united, but the management decisions of the time were correct and forced us to seek alternatives,” states Wilver Bringas Fernández, the young man who now heads the enterprise.
Although citrus fruits remain unable to compete with other produce – the enterprise today has 692 hectares of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees – all are set on improving this situation, so that Ceballos juices and nectars can once again enjoy their traditional great success in the European market.
Ortelio González MartínezPhoto:
Today, the enterprise is one of the most diversified associated with the Ministry of Agriculture and, for some time now, its attention has turned to new crops, ranging from fruits and vegetables, to the production of canned foods and the export of Marabou charcoal. In the past decade, the enterprise has exported over 190,000 tons of Marabou charcoal to European countries, thus maintaining its lead among all entities of the country in this sector.
“Among the huge tasks of the enterprise,” Bringas adds, “is the rescue of the MD-2 pineapple (winner of the Gold Medal at the 32nd Havana International Trade Fair) that, without entirely displacing the traditional Red Spanish variety, has begun to abound in the fields south of Ciego de Ávila, from where about 1,000 tons of fruit have been sent to Europe this year.”
The production of mango, guava, papaya, and other fruit trees is complemented by the development of an excellent investment process that has allowed for the advance of new lines, which have been assimilated without major problems.
Put like this, it would seem a simple task, but achieving the economic efficiency that permits competition in the international market on a par with developed countries, implies profound changes, including the legitimization of different production processes by the National Office of Standards and international certifiers, such as Bureau Veritas of France, and following GlobalGAP pineapple processing protocols.
The enterprise’s industrial production systems are fully certified for food safety (HACCP) and integrated health and safety standards.
The enterprise is also a leader in environmental care and preservation, having won the 2003 National Environment Award, a status maintained today. These achievements underpin the strategic development plans through 2030 in industry and agriculture as regards fruit and vegetables, such as citrus. In total, the enterprise markets more than 50 types of produce.
Domingo Escalante Pérez, director of development and investment, offers a revealing fact: ”In the last four years, the country has invested a total of more than 13 million pesos to increase capacity, of which 11 million were in hard currency, for the diversification of the industrial element alone, to produce fruit juices and nectars, pasta, tomato puree, and ketchup, something unthinkable a few years ago.”
THE TABLE IS SERVED
Despite the large volumes produced by La Cuba Miscellaneous Crops, it by no means has the magic solution to ensuring the table is fully served in all Cuban households.
However, from the red earth of the enterprise, of great importance and well-known across the island, many tons of food are distributed to all provinces, except Guantánamo, state-run agricultural produce markets, and more than 200 tourist facilities.
Another distinguishing feature of the enterprise is that during times of changing structures, the distribution of idle state-owned land in usufruct through Decree-Law no. 259 and, more recently, no. 300, and the creation of Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC), it has not thought twice and has continued to operate as a socialist state enterprise.
Using a baseball metaphor, Carlos Blancos Sánchez, director of the organization for over 20 years, notes: “We will never allow ourselves to be divided up into plots. When one is on a winning streak and the lineup performs well and works, one doesn’t change it.”
“Here every man and woman is responsible for the work done in their area, which includes protecting it; we link pay to productive results, with fewer bosses and more controls. This has provided us with good dividends, and the best example is that at certain times of year a worker can receive a monthly salary of more than 4,000 pesos.”
The La Cuba enterprise boasts various crops, including over 20 types of fruits and vegetables, as well as producing some pickles primarily destined for the tourist sector.
“Carlitos from La Cuba” as the enterprise’s director is known, speaks enthusiastically about the Tres Marías grain program currently underway, and the development of bean and corn crops which, depending on the time of year, cover an area of 2,600 hectares, hundreds of which are already sown.
Although the range of produce is extensive, the leading product is banana, and banana trees in general, while other varieties are also marketed.
Arturo Figueredo Crespo, deputy director of production, states that the current situation poses new challenges for managers and workers, which all are making great efforts to meet.
FROM BEGINNING TO END
Clearly, both enterprises have well laid plans in terms of crop diversification and make use of any feasible mechanism to achieve this, with a common goal of having created a productive chain from the field to the consumer, either in internal or external markets, a concept present in the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.
This offers advantages for a country like ours, and demonstrates that resources can be better used, which, in turn, results in greater competitiveness, dynamism, and strength in the production process, in order to close the gaps through which efficiency escapes.