Chronic shortages in Cuba due to the failed economic policies of the Castro dictatorship are not only affecting Cubans, but livestock as well. The lack of chickenfeed and supplies has caused egg production to plummet, exacerbating an already difficult situation for Cubans struggling to put food on the table. Chalk up another glorious triumph for Cuba’s socialist revolution.
Egg production in Cuba plummets
The production of eggs in Cuba has plummeted by 50% due to the lack of feed and financing to acquire the raw materials needed, authorities have admitted.
In an interview with the state-run website Cubadebate, Jorge Luis Parapar López, president of the Food and Poultry Business Group (Gealav), said that “poultry production in Cuba at the moment is at 50% of its capacity, both in terms of the quantity of animals and production.”
Although the executive did not provide the total number of eggs produced – nor of chicken meat – during 2023, he did provide data indicating the crisis facing this sector amid the generalized crisis the country is going through.
According to Parapar, 99% of the raw materials used for feed production (also intended for pig production) are imported, such as corn and soy. With these, between 900 and 1,000 tons of feed are produced daily to feed the poultry.
However, it would be necessary to have between 1,500 and 1,600 tons daily if they were to have the total number of animals required by the national poultry program.
These quantities, the executive claims, would be enough to “meet the demand and have 10 or 15 eggs per consumer per month as before.”
The distribution of eggs through the ration book in Cuba has dropped to five eggs per person per month, but even that quantity is not fulfilled by the government in most provinces.
Parapar blames the US government’s embargo for Cuba’s limitations in accessing the necessary raw materials to manufacture feed.
The report from Cubadebate stated that “the ‘blockade’ has also limited the entry of ships with raw materials into the country, and the few that do arrive do so through the port of Havana. Then, it has to be transported throughout the country, which implies more resource expenditure.”
“We are working in the midst of this tense situation,” the official stated.
Using this argument, he also justifies that egg production is not profitable. “The production cost of an egg ranges between 5.60 and 6 pesos, and it is sold to the population at 2.08, a difference that causes million-dollar losses to the company,” he asserted.
The director of Gealav revealed one more piece of data that highlights the critical situation of this sector in Cuba: last Saturday, on some farms, they gave the animals the last meal they had.
He claimed that in poultry farming, you need to work with three or four days of coverage to ensure that the hens have the necessary food. “A hen eats between 107 and 110 grams depending on age and laying percentage. That requires control, calculations, weighing the feed. Today, the country’s farms are operating with one day of coverage, and some gave the last meal they had today (last Saturday),” he specified.
Also, due to the fuel crisis, he acknowledged that feed takes longer to reach the farms, causing instability because “the hen is a very sensitive animal, easily stressed, and then the expected productive results are not achieved.”
In the first week of August, there was a critical situation with food, and production dropped from 2,400,000 to 200,000 eggs per day.
In May and June, technological problems in the egg carton factories in Havana and Jatibonico also affected poultry production. In the midst of peak production, Parapar pointed out, “thousands of eggs were lost because they didn’t have trays.”
He reported that during the last quarter of 2022 and the first two months of 2023, no incubation was carried out in the country because the government couldn’t import the necessary vaccines, which “represents a year and a half without being able to guarantee replacement” of the birds.
“More than 50 percent of the hens currently in Cuba are in the second forced molt, that is, in the second productive cycle, and some are even in a third, when the ideal is only one,” Parapar said. Due to aging, the hens do not achieve the expected performance and lay fewer eggs, even though they consume the same amount of food as always.
According to the executive, the poultry company expects to end the year with about 200,000 replaced hens out of the existing 500,000, and aims to replace the rest that are in the second productive cycle during the first semester of 2024.