Animal feed, then… more feed

Photo: Luz Escobar

It’s five in the morning and they are beginning to pile a few pieces of port on the stand. They’ve made the long and rugged journey from a private farm to get to this market in the city. They will only have meat to sell until mid-morning, because the demand exceeds what the sellers can offer. A good part of the domestic economy will be determined by this product. Its rising price affects the cost of a steak sandwich that a bricklayer might eat at his work site, or that of the chicharrones that a mother puts on the table for her children’s lunch. So many things revolve around those extra pounds of fat, bone and fibers, that any shortage or lack affects the everyday fabric of survival.

However, behind the chops and sausages is a product as important as it is difficult to get: the feed for the pigs. The weakest link in the agricultural chain is “food for the pigs,” a real headache for many Cuban peasants. The State remains the leading manufacturer of this product, in part because the private sector doesn’t have the raw materials or the technical capacity to obtain it.

After decades pf accumulated complaints and of underweight animals, Cuba still has not managed to achieve stable high quality nutrition for farm animals. Traveling through the fertile plains that make up the western and central areas of the county, one is surprised by the great amount of uncultivated land. It could be planted with grains and vegetables that would help to increase the mass of the country’s swine. For now, these extensive land abound in weeds.

The State entities sell pigs after they are weaned, and also part of the feed they consume, to the producers. The farmers incur a debt that they will repay with the animals themselves after they are slaughtered, leaving some profit for themselves. Explained in this way, it seems fair. However, the whole process is full of irregularities, diversion of resources and corruption. The functionaries of the agricultural sphere sometimes falsify the weights, artificially increasing what they deliver to the farmers and reducing what they receive from them. In addition, the distribution of the feed is not completed, or simply never occurs.

To be able to fatten the animals, the private producer then uses products that are contraindicated for the health of the consumers. Excessive doses of antibiotics, food scraps collected from garbage dumps in the large cities, and even the offal and remains of the pigs themselves. In some cases so-called “fishmeal” will be the only thing the pigs ingest in their brief lives, giving the meat a now characteristic flavor in many Cuban dishes.

When a pound of pork is slaughtered, in most cases it’s because feed is scarce. A close relationship that alters the domestic economy and quality of life for so many Cubans. It starts with a sack of feed that doesn’t arrive on time to the farm trough, but ends with a woman who leaves the market with an empty sack.


19 thoughts on “Animal feed, then… more feed

  1. Pingback: Animal feed, then… more feed | aristocracyofpull

  2. Pingback: Who’d a-thunk it? Research confirms gender differences and food shortages under communism? | AEIdeas


    STATE OF SATS: First International Conference on Human Rights and UN Covenants – The independent project Estado de SATS invites artists, intellectuals, activists and defenders of human rights to participate in the First International Conference on Human Rights and the UN Covenants, as part of the Campaign for Another Cuba and the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    Date: December 10-11, 2013 – Place: Havana, Cuba
    Subject panels – Audiovisual Screening – Exposition on Art and Human Rights (photography, painting, graphics, installation). Experimental and Playback Theater -Concert
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    REUTERS: Cuba temporarily reopens consular services in U.S., still seeks bank – by Mark Frank

    Cuba has temporarily reopened consular services in the United States after its bank postponed closing the accounts of its diplomatic missions in Washington and New York, it said in a statement released to media on Monday.

    Consular services were suspended on November 27 by the Cuban Interests Section, Havana’s mission in Washington, when it failed to find a replacement for M&T Bank Corp, which had decided to stop offering services to foreign diplomatic missions.

    An Interests Section press release published on Monday said the bank would postpone closing the Cuban diplomatic missions’ accounts in the United States until March and would continue to receive deposits for consular services until February 17.

    “The Cuban Interests Section continues efforts to identify a new bank,” the press release said.

    According to Cuban officials and U.S. diplomats, both parties have worked for months to replace M&T, but it has been difficult to find another bank because of onerous sanctions regulations and the mounds of small, individual receipts Cuba deposits that must be rigorously processed.

    A U.S. diplomat told Reuters on Sunday that the search for a permanent new bank to handle the Cuban accounts continued, and a possible solution might be near at hand.

    While the Cuban government does not publish statistics on the number of Cuban-Americans visiting the country each year, tourism industry sources and U.S. charter companies and travel agencies place the figure at about 350,000, all of whom must seek entry visas. Cuban emigres must keep their Cuban passports up to date through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and pay a renewal fee of $200 every two years.


  5. So Cuba has officially announced it is reopening its consul that never closed.

    Gee, that was hard to predict.

    M&T bank will continue providing them with banking services through to March.

    See, it just took one phone call to a friendly banker.

    Now here’s some more advice, don’t wait till February before you look for a new bank.

    There are hundreds of banks in the USA waiting to serve you.

  6. Now Nick is an expert on the Ukraine as well. Must be all those years he spent on Ukrainian pig farms.

    According to Nick, Lenin is not a symbol of communism.

    Keep em coming buddy, they just keep getting better.

  7. HUMBY!
    Not for the first time you are waving your ignorance around like a flag.
    This latest copy and paste from you regarding Ukraine is hilarious.
    You think they pulled down a statue of Lenin because he was a communist and therefore this has something to do with Cuba??
    Complete misreading of the situation in Ukraine about which you probably know approximately zero.
    Lenin’s statue came down not because he was a Marxist, but because it was a symbol of Russian Imperialism and many in Ukraine are not for the first time, out in the streets attending pro-Europe/anti-Russian demonstrations.
    Ukraine is one of a number of countries getting themselves away from Russian control.
    Just as most Latin American countries have followed Cuba’s example and have managed to achieve freedom from US imperialist control.
    Get with the programme HUMBY!

  8. I am reminded of all the Chinese experts who used to wave around their Mao’ Little Red Book and tell everyone that Chinese dissidents were mercenaries, liars and CIA agents.

    Nick is now an expert on Cuban pig production.

    He is an expert on all things Cuban.

    He keeps posting about all the years he has spent here in Cuba, and there in Cuba, and elsewhere in Cuba, watching Cuban patriots feed Cuban socialist pigs.

    Yet all we hear from is a deluded fool continuously trolling this site from a comfortable English armchair. What’s it been, 1 year? 2 years? since he started. At least under his current name.

    Where does he find time to visit Cuba? I think his trips occur in his mind each time he reads Granma and Havana Times.

    I think he should really move to Cuba and work on a pig farm and then report back.

  9. Mr John Bibb,
    You are absolutely correct that pigs can be fed on scraps.
    Since time immemorial this has been the case. Waste not want not is a good ethic to have.
    However this is very different than Yoani’s suggestion that Cuban pigs are fed on ‘…food scraps collected from garbage dumps in the large cities, and even the offal and remains of the pigs themselves’.
    As I have said I know many people in Cuba who raise pigs both for domestic and commercial consumption.
    I have watched pigs in Cuba feeding on normal household scraps countless times over the past couple of decades, but have neither seen nor heard of anybody feeding their pigs on ‘scraps collected from garbage dumps in the large cities, and even the offal and remains of the pigs themselves’.
    I would not suggest that this has never ever occurred, but for our Fave Blogger to present it as the norm is totally wrong and misleading.
    …or as Hank, (our resident expert on all things, including the history of Cuban pig production and the difficulties and challenges this industry has or has not faced over the decades and, of course, the English Language) would put it: libellous.

  10. Oh no!!
    I’ve been called a maroon.
    For the first time ever I have been called a maroon.
    Whats even more funny is that I have been called a maroon by someone who is so brainwashed by his own ma and pa that he cannot get it together to formulate his own opinions.
    Someone who is so set on his one-eyed, one sided, narrow little out of date viewpoint that he won’t venture out into the big wide world for fear that his inherited prejudice gets challenged.
    Someone who claims to be Mr Good Old Democrat yet sticks up for terrorist sponsoring, Mandela insulting, Miami loser scum.

    Neeeeeeeeeeeeh whats up doc!!!!

  11. Unlike the Cuban Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, one of the leader dissidents that served 11 years in prison under Law 88 of 1999, known as the Gag Law, whom Amnesty International considered a prisoner of conscience for his avocation of peaceful opposition to the Castroit regimen, Mandela was not a “prisoner of conscience.” Anthony Sampson of the London Observer, who wrote Mandela’s authorized biography, concluded that: “The trial has been properly conducted. The judge, Mr. Justice Quartus de Wet, has been scrupulously fair.”

    Amnesty International in 1985 explaining why it refused to list Mandela as a political prisoner: “Nelson Mandela had participated in planning acts of sabotage and inciting violence, so that he could no longer fulfill the criteria for the classification of political prisoners.”

  12. ***
    When I was in the Army in 1964 we saved the leftover / uneaten food and put it in special clean garbage cans in clean plastic bags. Local farmers bought it and used it in their pig farms. Waste not–want not!
    Cuando estuve en el Ejercito en 1964 guardamos la comida extra / no comido y lo pusimos en especial botes de basura en limpias bolsas de plastico. Los agricultores locales lo compraban y lo usaban en sus ranchos de marranos. No gasta mal–no faltaras!
    John Bibb


    N.Y. TIMES: Protesters in Kiev Topple Lenin Statue as Rallies Grow – By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ANDREW E. KRAMER

    KIEV, Ukraine — Public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising in Ukraine on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of protesters answered President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s dismissiveness with their biggest rally so far, demanding that he and his government resign.

    At the height of the unrest Sunday night, a seething crowd toppled and smashed a statue of Lenin, the most prominent monument to the Communist leader in Kiev. The act was heavy with symbolism, underscoring the protesters’ rage at Russia over its role in the events that first prompted the protests: Mr. Yanukovich’s abrupt refusal to sign sweeping political and free-trade agreements with the European Union.

    After an electrifying assembly in Independence Square in the center of Kiev, the main focus of the protests, the huge crowd surged across the capital, erecting barriers to block the streets around the presidential headquarters and pitching huge tents in strategic intersections. They were not challenged by the police, who have largely disengaged since their bloody crackdown on a group of protesters on Nov. 30 sharply increased outrage at the government.

    International concern over the unrest in Ukraine appeared to deepen on Sunday, as the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, telephoned Mr. Yanukovich and Western leaders continued to call on him to respond to the demonstrators’ demands. The European Union has been eager to draw Ukraine, a nation of 46 million, into closer alliance with the West, while Russia has sought to safeguard its major economic and political interests in its close neighbor. Making the crisis more acute, Ukraine is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and is desperate for financial assistance from abroad.


  14. Correcting Nick’s crazy proclamations is becoming a full time job.

    Slander, Nick, is defamation uttered via the spoken word. Libel is a written defamation. The next time you accuse Yoani of defamation, get your vocabulary straight.

    What a maroon!

  15. The top priority should be on feeding people, not pigs, as many Cubans are still going hungry.

    Other than that, another very accurate and honest post.

    Once again, Nick insists on making a fool of himself. As if a Cuban official is going to tell Nick what Cuban farmers really feed their pigs.

    “I spent some time in central Cuba at a Marxist summer camp and I know that Castro only raises clean socialist pigs”

    Don’t you think it is just possible that Yoani knows more about Cuba than Nick does? I doubt that thought would ever cross his mind as he reads the reflections of Fidel.

  16. Nick,

    Get over it, Mandela was a terrorist. He admitted he was a terrorist. Are you calling Mandela a liar?

    He grew and learned and forgave. Isn’t it time you grew and learned and forgave also.

    Hatred is poisoning your mind.

    You have praised dictators who gas children and practically every terrorist in the world. The only terrorist you dislike is an anti-Castro one.

    And then you call Cuba’s peaceful dissidents mercenaries and CIA agents and scum.

    Have you ever done anything in your life to make this world a better place?

  17. Nick,
    While I cannot say whether they give more antibiotics then the USA or Europe, Yoani has some point that feeding pigs is crucial for domestic food market.

    There is land available to grow soya and potatoes. A mistake made after Fidel’s resignation was to relax domestic migration controls. Too many Cubans live in Havana. And you know better then us that Havana is not a good example of Cuba. Who is to grow potatoes?

  18. Re Yoani’s misleading post:
    I have spent much time in Central Cuba where pig farmers are the norm.
    I know many people in this rural part of Cuba who raise pigs for food and to supplement their income.
    None of them use excessive doses of antibiotics, food scraps collected from garbage dumps in the large cities or the offal and remains of the pigs themselves.
    This comment from Yoani is either slanderous and misleading or our Fave Blogger has just been hanging out with the wrong pig farmers.

  19. Here’s some copying pasting HUMBY-STYLE!!

    I do not seek to dislodge HUMBY’s copying and pasting crown,
    but here are some interesting extracts from Huff Post article:

    ‘Cuba under Castro opposed apartheid and supported the African National Congress — Mandela’s political organization and the current ruling party.’

    ‘The U.S. government, on the other hand, reportedly played a role in Mandela’s 1962 arrest and subsequently branded him a terrorist — a designation they only rescinded in 2008.’

    ‘Mandela remained sharply critical of the United States into his later life. When the George W. Bush administration announced plans to invade Iraq in 2003, Mandela said: “If there’s a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.” ‘

    “We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign,”

    ‘None of this went down well with the Cuban exile community in the United States’
    ‘When Mandela came to speak against apartheid in Miami in 1990, five Cuban-American mayors signed a letter criticizing him for his pro-Castro comments.’

    ‘The pressure prompted the local government to snub Mandela, cancelling an official welcome of the recently released leader.’

    ‘In response, black leaders boycotted the Miami tourist industry until 1993…..’

    Shame on the Posada Carriles sponsoring Miami scum…………

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