Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cuba's agriculture threatened by worst Caribbean drought in 115 years

Cuba's agriculture threatened by worst Caribbean drought in 115 years
By: Philippines News Agency | Xinhua
August 27, 2015 9:33 AM
The online news portal of TV5

HAVANA -- Cuba's agriculture is being threatened by the worst drought to
hit the Caribbean in over a century, jeopardizing plans for the island
to achieve its long-desired food independence.

The government is currently spending around $2 billion to import 80
percent of the food needed to meet the demands of its 11.2 million
inhabitants, with President Raul Castro calling on Cubans to produce
everything that could be harvested in the country.

Since 2008, Castro's administration has delivered over one million
hectares of state-owned unused land to more than 70,000 new farmers
while easing rules and regulations for the granting of bank credits and
for the free trade of food.

However, these plans are now at risk from a severe drought currently
afflicting the entire Caribbean Basin. Considered to be the worst
drought in the region in 115 years, it is particularly hard in Cuba.

The lack of rainfall in Cuba which may worsen in the coming months has
damaged thousands of hectares of sugar cane and vegetable crops, among
others. It has also forced authorities to supply water to over a million

A recent briefing note by the Civil Defense National Staff highlighted
that the underground water sources are down compared to previous months
while high temperatures are increasing the evaporation rate in
reservoirs. Cuba reported 10 days of record high temperatures in July alone.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Institute of Meteorology has forecast that the
drought will last for the rest of 2015, coinciding with very low
hurricane activity. This is highly likely to affect water availability
for the next dry season to begin in November.

Cuban and foreign forecasters agree that the current drought has largely
been created by the combined impacts of climate change and the El
Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Other Caribbean countries are also struggling under the same drought.

Jamaica's main reservoirs are at under half of their capacity, with the
most critical situation being found in the south and east of the country.

In Haiti, a lack of water has been reported in all ten departments, with
hundreds of thousands of families who depend on agriculture being affected.

The National Water Monitor of the Dominican Republic has warned that the
country's reservoirs are steadily lowering, forcing authorities to
implement tough rationing measures.

A total of 29 of Puerto Rico's 34 municipalities are also in a state of
extreme drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, while the state of
Florida may well face rationing should the drought continue.

Source: Cuba's agriculture threatened by worst Caribbean drought in 115
years -

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