HAVANA TIMES — After a year of flour shortage in Cuba, the Government announced this Thursday the launch of a project on the Isle of Youth to obtain breadfruit flour. The objective is to obtain this raw material to have greater availability or, directly to replace the wheat flour used in the production of breads and cookie.
Marlene García Collado, of the Tropical Fruit Research Institute, has told the Cuban News Agency (ACN) that the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is a resource available in the area and that there are 50 producers dedicated to it.
The official press has spoken with one of them, a farmer who has a farm in Ciro Redondo (4 kilometers from Nueva Gerona), where a plant will be located that will collect the fruit, peel it, chop it and dehydrate it in an oven and then pulverize it, pack it in one kilo packages and seal it. The product is priced, according to ANC, at 81 cents per kilo on the international market, although in the special municipality it will be sold in Cuban pesos.
“When the micro-industry is consolidated, this healthy food option can also be used as an extender in the production of ice cream, as well as a thickener for compotes and juices and in the domestic kitchen to make croquettes, custards, flans and meatballs, among other delicacies,” explains the farmer Juan Marcelo Váquez.
Breadfruit flour is considered a very healthy product, with a higher nutritional quality than other vegetable flours and some studies consider it “an innovative creative alternative for the formulation and preparation of suitable foods, that is, processed to provide protein elements, accompanied by non-empty calories.”
Last May the Government announced a 30% reduction in the sale of unrationed bread due to the lack of wheat flour. In addition, it also reported a 50% drop in the delivery of the product to the gastronomic network and state agencies, although it aspired to guarantee the sale of rationed bread and the Health and Education sectors.
The lack of wheat flour forced the production of cornmeal bread, but this did not solve the shortage either. Over the last year, and in particular since January, the lines to buy bread in the unrationed market can go on for hours and prices in private businesses have doubled.
But the problem is not limited to the lack of raw material. In 2018 there was another crisis of bread shortage that at that time was not attributed to the wheat, but to the poor condition of the mills.