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Cuba would be able to supply the total requirements of pork but would still fall far short of meeting the requirements for lard.
Imports of salt pork, bacon, and hams, principally from the United States, averaged over 42 million pounds a year from 1920 to 1929. After increased tariff protection, domestic production expanded and imports fell sharply to only 4 million pounds in 1940 (table 53).
Lard requirements have always been far in excess of domestic production. Imports in 1920-29 averaged 92 million pounds annually. Higher import duties since 1927 have tended to increase domestic production of lard and to some extent of substitute lard compounds. During the 5 years 1936-40 imports averaged only 47 million pounds. Imports vary considerably, depending upon purchasing power: in
1933 they dropped below 10 million pounds and remained under 30 million until 1937.
Total consumption in 1937 was estimated by the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture (19) at about 85 million pounds, and on this basis more than one-half of the total requirements were imported. It is not likely that Cuba will attain self-sufficiency in lard production in the near future. Local production is handicapped by a relatively limited demand for pork as compared with lard, and production for lard alone is not profitable.
SHEEP AND GOATS
The Cuban climate is not well adapted to sheep production. The census of 1940 records 141,000 head. These were kept primarily for mutton, since the wool growth is usually not sufficient to warrant
shearing. Some additional mutton, about 20,000 pounds a year, is imported.
Goats are generally kept on small farms and by poor families in outskirts of the cities. The 1934 census listed 54,000 head. They are kept for both milk and meat. The small herds are usually allowed to pasture and are rarely fed. Goat and kid meat is frequently sold as mutton or lamb.
The officially recorded slaughterings of sheep and goats in 1938 amounted to 34,000 head, producing about 1 million pounds of meat. Many more were probably slaughtered privately on farms.
Commercial dairying is a comparatively recent development in Cuba. Although the consumption of dairy products is small, particularly of fresh milk, the development of the industry during the past 15 years has been remarkable. Formerly imports were heavy, amounting to 40 or 50 million pounds of condensed milk, 5 million of cheese, and 2.5 million of butter, at a total cost of about 6 million dollars annually, but by 1940 dairying had developed to an export basis for all of these products. Exports in 1940 were valued at about two-thirds of a million dollars.
Nevertheless dairying in Cuba is on an extensive basis and for the most part consists of milking cows of the regular beef herds. Some dairy breeds have been imported, but by far the greater part of the milk is obtained from the native-Zebu or native-Brahman cross. Imported cattle must be acclimated and immunized and are usually less productive under Cuban conditions than in a cooler climate. No hay, grain, or concentrate feed is fed except in a few dairies that supply fresh milk to cities.
Prior to 1927 commercial dairies did not exist except in Habana, and even that city had to depend to a large extent on imports of dairy products. Production in other parts of the island was for purely local consumption, and no attempt was made to collect milk from rural areas for sale in the larger cities. Consumption of fresh milk was very small. Methods of cooling and sanitation were poor, and transportation was slow and inadequate.
The first move toward development of the dairy industry was the Milk Congress of 1927, which made the following suggestions: Formation of a cooperative dairy association; establishment of agricultural banks to assist in financing dairies; carrying out of educational campaigns to instruct dairymen in hygienic production of milk; holding of annual fairs; establishment of milk laboratories; and inspection of dairies and milk by the Government. Not all of these suggestions were put into effect, but the congress served to stimulate the general public and Government interest in the dairy industry.
Some improved cattle were imported; a few good herds were established and dairy-product manufacturing plants were constructed. One enterprise, in particular, with United States capital set up the model Ward's dairy with purebred dairy cattle and retail distribution and delivery of high-grade dairy products in Habana. Its laboratory was permitted to be used by the Government as an experiment station. Although this dairy farm with its intensive feeding was on too expensive a scale to be generally applicable in Cuba, it served as an illustration of what could be done and it acquainted Cubans with high-quality fresh dairy products.
In addition to the Habana area, which supplies primarily fluid milk, there are now two other large dairy districts in Cuba devoted largely to the manufacturing of dairy products. These two are in the principal cattle-grazing country in eastern Cuba. One of these areas centers at Sancti Spíritus in Las Villas and the other around the town of Bayamo, in Oriente.
According to the 1940 census there were 1,636,000 cows in Cuba. From 40 to 50 percent of these now are milked at least part of the time. In the principal grazing areas cows are usually milked only once a day, and when production falls below 2 or 3 quarts a day milking is discontinued and the cows are replaced by others from the beef herd. Production per cow, therefore, is frequently only from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of milk a year. Total milk production is estimated at somewhere between 1 and 2 million quarts a day. Prices paid for milk for processing are relatively high compared with prices of other farm products and vary from $1 to $1.80 per 100 pounds.
Although butter production has increased sharply under tariff protection, the low purchasing power of the majority of the Cuban people results in a low domestic consumption, amounting to only about 1 pound per capita compared with 17 pounds per capita in the United States. Cuba is now self-sufficient, with a total production estimated at from 5 to 6 million pounds annually, produced largely in six commercial creameries. Butter imports in 1920-25 averaged about 2.5 million pounds annually but have declined rapidly to less than 30,000 pounds annually since 1932 (table 55). Exports began on a small scale in 1928 and since 1935 have far exceeded imports. In 1941 exports reached about 1.4 million pounds. During the past decade Cuba's production increased from an estimated 20 to 25 percent of requirements in 1930 to about 130 percent of requirements in 1941. TABLE 55.—Dairy products imported and exported, Cuba, 1920–40
Milk, condensed, evapo-
1,000 pounds 1,000 pounds 1,000 pounds 1,000 pounds 1,000 pounds 1,000 pounds
Official foreign-trade statistics.
Cuba's cheese consumption is also relatively low, probably amounting to less than 2 pounds per capita as compared with nearly 6 pounds in the United States. As recently as 1927 more than 5 million pounds of cheese were imported, but since 1933 imports have dropped off to an average of only one-third of a million pounds, limited to special types not produced in Cuba. Exports continued to be very small until 1940 when they amounted to nearly one-third of a million pounds and in 1941 exports rose to nearly 1 million pounds.
Production in 1941 is estimated at about 9 million pounds consisting largely of soft cream cheese, Gouda (Netherland), and Cheddar.
CONDENSED AND EVAPORATED MILK
Canned milk is the most important of all the dairy products made in Cuba from every standpoint consumption, production, and foreign trade. Many families rely entirely on canned milk, and it is common practice for restaurants to serve canned milk with coffee. This is because of the difficulty of preserving fresh milk in the warm climate; the lack of refrigeration and adequate transportation; and the seasonal nature of milk production, with a peak during the rainy summer pasture season and short production during the winter dry period. Prior to 1930 Cuban imports of these products averaged about 45 million pounds, costing from 4 to 5 million dollars annually. Domestic production began in 1930 under Government tariff protection, and now there are three large plants at Bayamo, Sancti Spíritus, and Habana. The first two are the largest and are located in the cattle-ranch areas. Domestic production was about 40 million pounds in 1939. Exports began on a small scale in 1936 and by 1940 far exceeded imports and in 1941 amounted to over 15 million pounds. There is also a small production of powdered milk.
The Cuban poultry and egg industry is extensive but consists of a large number of small flocks receiving very little special attention or special feed. The climate is well adapted for poultry production, but there are practically no large commercial flocks. According to the 1934 census there were 12.5 million head of poultry, equivalent to about 3 per capita, which is approximately the same as the number per capita in the United States. There is now very little foreign trade in poultry or eggs, but prior to 1927 Cuba was an excellent market for eggs from the United States. From 1920 to 1927 United States exports to Cuba averaged more than 12 million dozen a year and accounted for 42 percent of total United States egg exports. Then in 1927 Cuba greatly increased the import duty. Higher prices in Cuba resulted, and these encouraged increased domestic production. Since 1931 exports to Cuba of eggs in the shell have not amounted to a thousand dozen a year, except in 1939 and 1940 (5,000 dozen in 1940).
A few flocks consist of imported breeds, but by far the most important is the native Cuban breed Cubalaya, which in 1939 was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association (5) as a standard breed (fig. 40). This breed has 3 varieties-white, black, and black
breasted red; the birds have drooping tails and are rather small, about the same size as the Leghorn.
The importance of poultry as a source of meat is indicated by the fact that total consumption is estimated at about 40 million pounds
FIGURE 40.-The Cubalaya is one of the standard breeds of poultry.
(19) and that it is used in Cuba's national dish, chicken and rice. The sale of eggs is a very important steady source of a small amount of ready cash for farm families. In addition, the game birds play an important role in supplying amusement in rural areas.