HAVANA – Ninety-five percent of Cuba’s tractors have been in service for more than 30 years, a situation that may change with the arrival of farm-equipment manufacturer Cleber, the first U.S. company authorized to operate in the island since the 1959 revolution.
The fleet includes 62,668 tractors and harvesters, 70 percent of them belonging to the Agriculture Ministry, Communist Party daily Granma reported Thursday.
A lack of spare parts and “the expanded diversity of brands (more than 26)” make it difficult to get the maximum value out of the equipment, the newspaper said.
Granma highlighted those numbers just weeks after Alabama-based Cleber received authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department to install a tractor manufacturing plant in the Port of Mariel Special Development Zone, near the Cuban capital.
Granma said the plant, with a manufacturing capacity of 1,000 units a year, will give a new impetus to Cuban agriculture, a sector that has yet to experience the impact of reforms launched five years ago by President Raul Castro to “update” Cuba’s socialist model.
Cuba imports 80 percent of its food at an annual cost of roughly $2 billion. The Agriculture Ministry says the country has the capacity to replace 60 percent of food imports with domestic production.