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irrigation. Most of the rivers flow across the narrow part of the island and are short and small. They are fed primarily by current rainfall and do not provide sufficient water for large irrigation projects. Of the rivers examined, several of the most suitable have been chosen for the proposed construction. Climatic conditions in Cuba are somewhat similar to those in the Grand Prairie section of Arkansas, where irrigation is regularly used for rice.
Before the war growers usually received from 1.5 to 2.2 cents a pound for unhulled rice at the nearest mill. This is slightly higher than the prices received by growers in the United States, which were 1.43 in 1938 and 1.72 in 1939. A price of 2 cents to growers, in addition to the cost of transportation, 15 cents per 100 pounds for milling, 10 cents for bags, and the loss in weight in milling amounting to about 35 percent, resulted in a price of about $3.20 to $3.40 for cleaned rice.
Beans are a very important item in the Cuban diet, especially for the poorer people. Total consumption of beans and chickpeas (garbanzos) is estimated at 150 million pounds a year, or about 35 pounds per capita, as compared with only about 12 pounds per capita in the United States. Nearly half of the consumption consists of black beans, about one-fourth of red and pink kidney beans, and the remaining fourth primarily of about equal quantities of white or navy beans and chickpeas. In addition, about 6 million pounds of dry peas are imported.
Of a total estimated consumption of 150 million pounds of beans and peas, Cuba produces about two-thirds and imports about onethird, but these proportions vary widely with the different types of beans (table 49).
TABLE 49.-Bean and pea production (estimated), imports, and utilization in Cuba, average 1936-40
It will be noted that black beans, which account for nearly one-half the total consumption, are grown almost entirely in Cuba, whereas domestic production of red and pink beans constitutes less than onehalf the requirements of these types. Most of the white beans and practically all the chickpeas are imported. Imports of all kinds of beans, including chickpeas, are valued at from 1.5 to 2 million dollars annually (table 50). By far the greater part of the imports, both of the red and white beans, are from Chile, with the United States supplying slightly over one-fourth. Of the chickpeas, nearly 90 percent are
obtained from Mexico and most of the remainder from the United States.
It is estimated that production in Cuba from about 100,000 acres is in the neighborhood of 100 million pounds annually, of which over 70 percent are black beans and most of the remainder red and pink. Yields of black beans are estimated at 900 pounds an acre, compared with about 750 pounds for the red beans. Storage of dry beans in Cuba, particularly of the red variety, is difficult, because of infestation by the bean weevil. Consequently, it is difficult to keep beans on the farms, which usually have no suitable storage facilities. The crop is usually marketed immediately after harvest and sold through the local storekeeper, who cleans and bags the beans for sale to larger markets having suitable storage facilities. Beans may be protected against insect damage by fumigation, which, however, according to some reports, adversely affects the quality of the beans. Another method of preservation is by cold storage.
TABLE 50.—Beans and peas imported into Cuba, by country of origin, 1936–40
1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 pounds dollars pounds dollars pounds dollars pounds dollars pounds dollars
Potatoes, sweetpotatoes, and yams are all grown in Cuba, but sweetpotatoes are by far the most important of these (fig. 33). Consumption of potatoes as food is estimated at about 150 million pounds annually; of sweetpotatoes, 340 million; and of yams, 61 million (19). Only about 100 million pounds of potatoes, or about two-thirds of the country's requirements, are produced domestically. During the 5 years 1936-40, the annual average imports amounted to 42 million pounds from the United States for use as food, and about 23 million
FIGURE 33.-Yams and sweetpotatoes are staple items of food in Cuba.
pounds from Canada for seed (table 51). Exports usually consist of less than 1 million pounds (4 million in 1940) of early potatoes shipped to the United States during the winter from December to April. TABLE 51.-Potato imports and exports, Cuba, 1936-40
1 Imports for seed are about 95 percent from Canada and those for food almost entirely from the United States.
Domestic production of potatoes is during the winter, with plantings of red varieties in October and November and white varieties as late as January and February. The principal harvest is therefore in winter and spring. During this period from November to June, imports of potatoes into Cuba are subject to a duty of $1.81 per hundred pounds, or, because of the 20-percent preference, $1.45 to the United States. During the off season for domestic production, that is, July to October, the import duty is reduced to 91 cents per hundred pounds, or, because of the 50-percent preference, 45%1⁄2 cents to the United States. Imports for food are almost entirely during this summer, reduced-duty period.
FIGURE 34.-Yuca is used both for food like potatoes and for the manufacture of cassava or tapioca starch.
Yuca, an important root crop, is grown both for food like potatoes and for the manufacture of cassava or tapioca starch. The stalks of the yuca plant above ground are slender, with numerous branches and leaves at the top. It grows to a height of from 5 to 10 feet. The roots, or tubers, are similar in shape to long sweetpotatoes, but are usually much larger (fig. 34). Two distinctly different kinds of yuca are grown, one for cooking and one for starch. The total acreage in
all kinds of yuca is estimated at between 50,000 and 60,000 acres, of which about 90 percent is of the sweet, or cooking, kind and roughly 10 percent is of the kind used for starch.
The small sweet, or white, kind contains very little hydrocyanic acid and is commonly used for eating. When cooked it consists of long, white pieces of almost pure starch. The roots are smaller and the yields lower, probably from 3,000 to 5,000 pounds per acre. matures earlier, in from 10 to 12 months. The importance of yuca as food is indicated by the fact that human consumption is estimated at 360 million pounds, compared with only 150 million pounds of potatoes and 340 million pounds of sweetpotatoes.
The large bitter, or black, yuca used for the manufacture of starch has a higher hydrocyanic acid content, matures later, in from 15 to 18 months, and produces higher yields. Yields vary from 6,000 to 20,000 pounds per acre and probably average about 8,000 pounds. Yuca grows best on sandy, or loose, well-drained soil. It is commonly planted in rows about 3 or 4 feet apart at the beginning of the wet summer season in June. The kinds used for starch require about 18 months to mature and are ready for harvest during the dry winter season from November to April, when the tubers are gathered and hauled to the local starch factory. Prices received by growers for the roots vary widely from 25 to as high as 60 cents per hundred pounds and over a period of years probably average from 30 to 40
It is reported that there are between 30 and 50 small yuca starch factories in Cuba, but not all of these are in operation. These factories are of the old type and produce a relatively low-grade starch used almost entirely in Cuba. Due to the limited harvesting season and the fact that yuca cannot be stored after harvest, factories can operate only during the winter. Total starch production in Cuba is estimated at about 5 million pounds annually, although the actual plant capacity is considerably in excess of this figure.
The process of manufacturing starch consists of washing the roots and removing the brown outer skin, then grinding the roots into pulp and washing the starch out with water. The resulting fluid is allowed to settle in large tanks, the water is drained off, and the wet starch is shoveled onto trays to be dried in the sun, after which it is pulverized and bagged. Starch yields vary from 25 to 28 percent of the weight of the yuca. Prices vary widely, from $1.50 for the relatively lowgrade starch for domestic consumption to nearly $5 per hundred pounds.
As early as December 1930 a law was passed providing for the compulsory addition of a specified percentage of yuca starch or flour in all bread and crackers made in Cuba. This requirement became effective in July 1932 but its operation proved to be unsatisfactory and it was abandoned. More recently there has been renewed interest in the manufacture of higher grade starch for export to the United States. It is believed that introduction of improved, higher yielding varieties of yuca and improvement in the manufacturing process would permit the economical preparation of a higher grade starch capable of competing on the United States market with the large quantities of yuca or cassava starch imported from the Far East. For a number of years Cuba has exported from 100,000 to 400,000 pounds of starch to the United States, but in 1940 exports