With the arrival in Spain of the first load of high quality pineapples harvested in the province of Ciego de Ávila, Cuba expanded its sales of this sought-after fruit on the European continent.
The first countries to receive the fruit from Cuba were Italy and France, according to Jorge Sánchez, head of exports for the Ceballos food processing company.
Speaking with AIN, he said that the goal is to increase exports of the high quality MD-2 variety, the first seedlings of which were brought to the province from Costa Rica some five years ago.
State cultivators and small farmers here have specialized in raising the fruit, and some have reached productivity of 100 tons per hectare, four times that achieved with the Red Spanish and Smooth Cayenne cultivars, planted for the local market and the processing industry.
Sánchez reported that 730 metric tons have been exported thus far this year and adequate plantings are under cultivation to reach the 920 tons projected for 2015.
Engineer Reinaldo de Ávila, in charge of fruit development for the company, emphasized that, while the MD-2 pineapple is of excellent quality, it requires careful cultivation, including proper drainage, level soils, aerial irrigation, chemical fertilizer, and pest control.
Despite these exacting requirements, plans have been made to expand plantings to 2,500 hectares by 2020, with a view toward increasing exports, supporting the national economy, and raising fruit farmers’ average income, which is now over 1,300 pesos a month, he said. Higher salaries have been made possible by increased productivity and success with mango and guava cultivation, the two most developed fruit crops in the region.
Pineapple has been grown in Ciego de Ávila for over 100 years, with 30,000 tons produced in the 1980s. Since then, harvests have fallen dramatically given the lack of necessary supplies, a result of the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba.