Cuba: Rationed chicken to be limited to children under 14 and medical diets

severe food and social crisis cuba

The food crisis in Cuba continues to worsen. The Ministry of Domestic Trade (MINCIN) has indirectly announced that the distribution of rationed chicken through the rationing booklet will be limited only to children under 14 and medical diets during the month of May.

The measure comes as a result of the growing food shortage and the decrease in chicken purchases by Cuba from its main suppliers, such as the United States and Brazil.

The rationing booklet is the only stable food supply for the poorest Cubans. Outside of this basket, which barely lasts to feed a person for a week, only exorbitant prices in agromarkets, dollar offerings in state stores, and the black market remain.

Despite the growing fuel crisis on the island, authorities have guaranteed the delivery of most rationed products for the upcoming month.

However, some products, such as beans, peas, and oil, are pending distribution in some provinces. In addition, April’s coffee is still in production and is expected to be ready for delivery in early May.

For those over 14 years old, only meat by-products such as ground meat and mortadella will be offered.

The decision has caused unrest among Cubans, who point out that these products are not adequate substitutes for chicken and express concern about the quality and quantity of these products in place of chicken.

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The drop in food and agricultural product purchases by Cuba in the U.S. during February was 17.5%, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), despite the embargo.

This decline was expected after Cuba’s purchases of chicken meat in the U.S. fell 21.7% in February compared to January.

However, in January, chicken imports had increased by 11% compared to December 2022.

Cuban economist Pedro Monreal noted that the decrease in chicken purchases for Cubans “was not compensated by other exporters,” particularly Brazil, the island’s second usual market for acquiring chicken.

Despite the shortage, chicken is available in virtual stores authorized by the Cuban government that sell in foreign currency through payments from abroad.

2022 closed with two historical records in U.S. chicken meat exports to Cuba: the highest annual export value, with just over $295 million, and the record for monthly exports, with a value exceeding $33 million in December.

Monreal indicated that the value of annual U.S. chicken exports to Cuba has almost doubled since 2018, posing a problem for the country’s foreign exchange, as with approximately half the spending in January 2019, nearly the same amount of chicken tons was imported as in December 2022.

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Monreal also expressed concern about “the inability to produce chicken” in Cuba, calling it the “elephant in the room” of national agricultural policy.

Insufficient food production on the island and the growing dependence on imports exacerbate the situation, especially in a context of international sanctions and economic crisis.

Cubans have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the current situation and the lack of guarantees in the supply of rationed chicken for those over 14 years old.

Parents of teenagers have expressed their discontent with the measure, arguing that “ground meat and mortadella are not meat products.”

In addition to the limitations in chicken distribution, Cuban authorities have assured that government-approved retail prices will be maintained, and there will be no increases in the cost of products, including bread, which had already been rumored to increase.

They will also continue delivering free donation modules for vulnerable people throughout the country.

The situation in Cuba remains critical, and the limitation in the distribution of rationed chicken for children under 14 and medical diets in May only adds to the difficulties for Cubans amidst an increasingly severe food and social crisis.

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The lack of basic foods like chicken highlights the urgency of addressing the underlying issues affecting agricultural production and food availability on the island.

The Cuban government faces the challenge of addressing the food crisis and ensuring an adequate and stable supply of food for its population.

In the meantime, Cuban citizens continue to suffer the consequences of food shortages and growing economic instability, awaiting effective and lasting solutions that improve their living conditions.

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