By Lucilo Tejera Díaz.
The social responsibility of the Cuban livestock farmers is huge. Each day they have to provide the subsidized milk that over 1,2 million children from two to six years of age consume.
Other people who receive this benefit are those going on dietary restrictions because of health problems, those checked into hospitals, the scholarship holders, the elderly people and the children aged under 6 years that attend daycare centers.
But the real situation of the commercialization of this food, sold by the milk-producing farmers to the dairy industry – the latter also in charge of its social distribution- is not as it should be.
For instance, the Unión Láctea (the Dairy Union) collected 120, 2 million liters of fresh milk in 2006, what represented 23 percent of what Cuba consumed in that year.
To cover the needs of the country, Cuba imported 60 thousand tons of powdered milk and for that concept paid out some 145 million dollars.
In that same year, the industry received 44 million liters more than in 2005, however the country had to purchase the same amount of powdered milk to satisfy the need of the consumers.
This had to do with the fact that the nutritious liquid did not satisfy the parameters of quality dealing with its fat content and acidity; problems caused by the delays of transportation and inappropriate containers. This occurs precisely when the price of the powdered milk in the world market has risen.
If in 2004 the product was bought at a price of around 2 279 dollars, in early 2007 it reached the price of over 3 500 dollars, and in April it came close to 4 600. The sale forecast for this food by July and August should round 7 000 dollars, in a moment when the situation of this product is critical worldwide.
This deficit is due to various factors: The United States is importing milk because a heat wave affected its productions in 2006; Australia also saw its sales diminished due to a drought, Argentina suffered from floods and the European Union removed the subside to its farmers.
In the current circumstances we can not ignore the escalating price of the fodder, since the corn, the soy and the rape are being used to make biofuel.
This is the panorama Cuba hast to face now, aggravated by the US blockade which has caused a continuing increase in the cost of the products, including powdered milk in the world market.
This situation can be considerably minimized if the production of milk in the Cuban livestock farms and the collection of it in the dairy industry grow.
This can be possible having the same number of cows but improving their handling, assuring their food and controlling more the final destination of the milk.
It is necessary to increase the shepherding areas in each farm, assure the reproduction of the cattle and guarantee the health of the animals.
It is also important to provide fresh milk to the industry so that it can pasteurize it and distribute it to the population.
The Cuban livestock farmers, who have shown over the last 15 years what they can do in spite of material limitations, are challenged to guarantee the food to millions of Cubans.