The Cuban population is running short of rice once again, and the government claims it will take measures to bring prices in line with wages because of public unrest about food prices in general. That means price controls for the Cuban economy re-emerging during 2016.
The problem that Cuba has with having enough rice for its people relates to the poor production practices under the Communist agricultural economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cuba’s average production per hectare has been 2.8 metric tons between 2009 and 2014. This level of production has not increased since the late 1970s.
This is a terrible example of agricultural production compared to other countries of the region, according to the USDA. During the same period, rice yields have averaged 4.7 metric tons per hectare in the Dominican Republic, 4.4 metric tons in Nicaragua and 3.5 metric tons in Costa Rica.
The Cuba Journal newsletter recently noted that prior to the 1962 embargo against Cuba by the U.S., Cuba was the number one export destination for U.S.-grown rice. The situation didn’t change much until 2000 when Congress permitted U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba, and rice sales to Cuba between 2002 and 2006 totaled 635 million metric tons. New rules cut sales to Cuba as of that 2006 timeframe, and there have been no U.S. rice sales to Cuba since 2008.
In October, congressional legislation was introduced by rice production state Representatives for repealing fiancé restrictions on Cuba to allow exports of agricultural products/commodities. The rice producers of the U.S. have a lot at stack in possibly becoming a source of rice for Cuba. The island market is quite close, and U.S. rice is known for extremely high quality.