Potatoes USA Reps Visit Cuba

Published online: Apr 26, 2017 Seed Potatoes
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Potatoes USA organized an informational exchange mission to Cuba March 27 through 31, comprised of 16 board members, seed potato growers and agronomists to explore the potential role of U.S. potatoes in Cuba

The Potatoes USA team met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Commercial Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture before heading into the countryside to visit potato production areas. The delegation viewed harvests at two different cooperatives in the Matanzas and Cienfuegos areas. Despite the many challenges facing Cuban growers—such as lack of inputs (fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides), minimal mechanization, and poor soil and climatic conditions—they were harvesting a good crop of large white potatoes.

Potatoes are one of eight foods whose distribution and price are controlled by the Cuban government. The Cuban government tries to provide 15 pounds of potatoes per person per month at a subsidized price for the three-month (or shorter) period of potato supplies.

Potato production in Cuba has declined dramatically in the last 20 years, but the country’s government is making efforts to revive it, including increasing the import of high-quality seed potatoes. Cuban growers and Ministry of Agriculture officials are very interested in trialing U.S. seed potatoes to see how they perform in the tropical climate.

Based on successes in the Dominican Republic and Central America, Potatoes USA and U.S. seed potato growers are confident U.S. suppliers can provide potato seed to help improve yields in Cuba.  

Future progress would include the completion of the import protocol by the USDA and the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture for U.S. seed potatoes to enter Cuba. Ideally, U.S. seed potatoes will be included in the Ministry of Agriculture-run trials in the fall of 2017. Further information exchanges can occur with the Cuban potato industry through their representatives visiting  U.S. seed potato-growing regions.