As Tractors Grind to a Halt, Cuba Returns to Oxen

Photo: Progreso Semanal

HAVANA TIMES – Cuba will employ thousands more oxen to plough sugar cane fields and pull farmers’ carts due to lack of fuel for ploughing machines and transport vehicles, reported dpa news on Thursday.

Horses will also be used for transport, the ruling Communist Party’s newspaper Granma quoted party official Jose Ramon Machado as saying.

The strange thing is that such measures reflect a far more serious situation than the two or three week temporary shortage stated by President Diaz Canel.

Cuban farmers are already using some oxen, though agriculture had become largely mechanized.

The government will now add about 8,000 oxen to those already in use, the presidency on Wednesday quoted the president of the state sugar cane monopoly Azcuba as saying.

“In the face of the current fuel shortage, measures have been adopted such as incorporating about 4,000 pairs of oxen into sugar cane work and food production,” Julio Garcia Perez said.

Cuba is experiencing fuel shortages due to a drop in the imports from crisis-hit Venezuela, also under US sanctions.

The island’s sugar cane production fell to 1.2 million tons in the season ending last May, down from 1.6 million tons in the previous season.

Cuba imports the majority of the basic foods consumed by its population, a large burden for its depressed state-centered economy.

14 thoughts on “As Tractors Grind to a Halt, Cuba Returns to Oxen

  • January 2, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    Cuba has perfect farming soil and weather: Very rich, fertile soil, ample rain, warm temperatures year round, sunshine and no need for irrigation. They have a plethora of unused land where they could grow just about every fruit and vegetable necessary and raise plenty of cattle and other livestock, as they did in pre-Castro days. Beef is rationed nowadays and the only way to get some is if you’re a diabetic, or through the black market. If the government would devote more time and effort on educating and helping people grow their own food and catch fish and seafood instead of controlling every area of their lives and oppressing them they would accomplish so much more! All the jobs and wages are controlled by the govt and most people earn around $15-$20 a MONTH! Even medical doctors earn so little they can’t afford a car. If they were given more freedom to have their own businesses and earn money on their own, their economy would improve greatly! But Castro preached against capitalism for half a century, although they sure do like the US $$$ when they come into their country! Out of desperation, they now have stores where you can only buy with US$. This causes family members outside Cuba to send dollars to help their families who are still in Cuba. Fidel Castro actually destroyed many sugar mills and plantations, doing away with hundreds of jobs! Cuba was once the number one sugar producer and exporter in the world and now they don’t even have enough sugar for their small population and it’s rationed. Cuba is a large island surrounded by ocean. There is no reason why Cubans can’t have plenty of seafood, free of charge, gifted by God! But Cubans are not allowed to have shrimp or lobster and are arrested and jailed if caught in possession of them. Does any of this make any sense!? As for blaming the US for all their problems (the govt calls the embargo a “blockade”), Cubans will tell you that if the US ever ended the embargo, their govt would run out of excuses and wouldn’t know who to blame! Cubans will also tell you that, if they could, they would all rush out and leave their island prison! But it’s illegal for Cubans to go out on a boat, even for fishing. Shortly after Castro’s revolution, he collected all guns, leaving the populace helpless to have another Revolution and fight. Cubans will also tell you they have NO HOPE. How sad! A once beautiful, prosperous country is now a third world country!

  • September 30, 2019 at 9:40 am

    China is only supporting. Cuba because of the U.S. embargo. I have family who live in Hong Kong. They are surprised by the waste in Cuba when went over to look at building a factory in Cuba. The Cuban government needs a complete overhaul. Using tractor for public transportation is a waste when starvation is just around the corner. A cow that produce 25 liters of milk per day takes the same feed as one oxen. After Russia pulled out when people were staving in Russia. The same thing is happening now. Canada tried to help but the Cuban government did not to share control with the little people and a foreign government.

  • September 26, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    The consequences of your “big picture” Chas would be starvation for billions instead of millions. How many oxen would be required world wide, and what would their presence do to levels of methane?

  • September 25, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Looks like another “Periodo Especial en Tiempo de Paz” is on the way. Let’s see if, with San Fidel gone, the Cuban people will respond less passively this time.

  • September 24, 2019 at 1:15 am

    The Chinese tractors are supplied on credit – Cuba’s debt with China exceeds $25 billion. 32% of the former farmland is reverting to bush. China is known for practicing economic colonialism.

  • September 23, 2019 at 9:12 am

    I have traveled for 1 month in Cuba this year, huge tracts of land left as scrub. Oxen being worked on small holdings, & the most surprising sight was new chinese tractors being used as public transport.

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