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    Cuba’s agriculture threatened by worst Caribbean drought in 115 years
    By: Philippines News Agency | Xinhua
    August 27, 2015 9:33 AM
    The online news portal of TV5

    HAVANA — Cuba’s agriculture is being threatened by the worst drought to
    hit the Caribbean in over a century, jeopardizing plans for the island
    to achieve its long-desired food independence.

    The government is currently spending around $2 billion to import 80
    percent of the food needed to meet the demands of its 11.2 million
    inhabitants, with President Raul Castro calling on Cubans to produce
    everything that could be harvested in the country.

    Since 2008, Castro’s administration has delivered over one million
    hectares of state-owned unused land to more than 70,000 new farmers
    while easing rules and regulations for the granting of bank credits and
    for the free trade of food.

    However, these plans are now at risk from a severe drought currently
    afflicting the entire Caribbean Basin. Considered to be the worst
    drought in the region in 115 years, it is particularly hard in Cuba.

    The lack of rainfall in Cuba which may worsen in the coming months has
    damaged thousands of hectares of sugar cane and vegetable crops, among
    others. It has also forced authorities to supply water to over a million

    A recent briefing note by the Civil Defense National Staff highlighted
    that the underground water sources are down compared to previous months
    while high temperatures are increasing the evaporation rate in
    reservoirs. Cuba reported 10 days of record high temperatures in July alone.

    Meanwhile, the Cuban Institute of Meteorology has forecast that the
    drought will last for the rest of 2015, coinciding with very low
    hurricane activity. This is highly likely to affect water availability
    for the next dry season to begin in November.

    Cuban and foreign forecasters agree that the current drought has largely
    been created by the combined impacts of climate change and the El
    Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

    Other Caribbean countries are also struggling under the same drought.

    Jamaica’s main reservoirs are at under half of their capacity, with the
    most critical situation being found in the south and east of the country.

    In Haiti, a lack of water has been reported in all ten departments, with
    hundreds of thousands of families who depend on agriculture being affected.

    The National Water Monitor of the Dominican Republic has warned that the
    country’s reservoirs are steadily lowering, forcing authorities to
    implement tough rationing measures.

    A total of 29 of Puerto Rico’s 34 municipalities are also in a state of
    extreme drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, while the state of
    Florida may well face rationing should the drought continue.

    Source: Cuba’s agriculture threatened by worst Caribbean drought in 115
    years –

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