Hurricane Irma's aftermath to dent Cuba's sugar yield

22.09.2017

Hurricane Irma's destructive rampage along Cuba's north coast severely damaged the island's sugar crop and will lead to losses to the coming harvest, state sugar producer Azcuba said on Thursday.

"We will see losses to the industry's production," Jose Carlos Santos, vice president of Azcuba, told Cubana Television.

A category-four hurricane when it reached Cuba, Irma caused serious flooding all along the coast as it moved east to west from Sept. 8 to 10, with winds of more than 200 km per hour.

Hundreds of thousands were evacuated from coastal areas. Still 10 people died, mostly in storm-related floods.

The strongest hurricane to hit the Caribbean in 10 years devastated cropland from the eastern province of Holguin to western Artemisa, hitting the provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara particularly hard.

Preliminary reports show at least 338,000 hectares of sugarcane were flattened and another 92,000 hectares were inundated.

In addition, more than 20 sugar plants suffered some damage, with winds ripping the roofs off warehouses, allowing some 2,800 tons of raw sugar to get soaked, though it can probably be salvaged in the refining process, Santos said.

Harvesting will begin in November as planned, he said, but "it will be somewhat complicated."

Cuba's previous sugar harvest yielded 1.8 million tons in 2016.


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