Some days ago, the Cuban deputy minister for agriculture announced with great fanfare exciting "new" plans by the Castro regime to substantially increase rice production on the island.
The announcement failed to attract much media attention outside Cuba … until now.
Under the headline, “As import prices soar, Cuba pushes to produce more rice”, that grand dame of English-language journalism, The International Herald Tribune, today reports that the Castro regime is planning to double rice production over the next five years.
According to the report, the regime is concerned that soaring rice prices in the world market will place at risk what the reporter describes as “the national dish of beans and rice”.
After all, we are told that "rice-obsessed Cubans” go through an average of 60 kilograms of rice a year – more than double the US average.
In other words, let's hear it for those clever, pro-active guys in Havana, who are promising to double the current crop of 200,000 metric tons of milled rice a year, thus ensuring Cubans don’t go without their beloved plate of congri.
Which is all very well, except for the fact that the announcement is nothing but media spin from the masterful Castro brothers.
Assuming production is doubled in the next five years - which is a big, big assumption - Cuba will still produce less rice in 2013 than it did in the late 1980s, when the annual rice production was more than 425,000 metric tons a year.
You see, under the Castro brothers, the Cuban rice industry has gone backwards. Big time. Forcing the regime to import more and more rice, which is fine when you have Moscow picking up the tab but not so fine when you have to find the money from your own reserves.
Now, that’s a story worthy of the Herald Tribune