Investments to Expand Production of Bioproducts in Cuba
The availability of new facilities will free the country from the need to import such products, and support the use of ecological practices in Cuban agriculture
Author: Yudy Castro Morales | firstname.lastname@example.org
January 29, 2021 08:01:34
Engineer Teobaldo Cruz in the Havana bioproducts plant’s fermentation area. Photo: Ariel Cecilio Lemus
Rooted in Fidel’s wisdom, like almost everything good between heaven and earth in Cuba, the use of bioproducts in agriculture dates back to the 1990s, when four production plants, located in the municipalities of Güira de Melena, Güines, Matanzas and Sancti Spíritus, saw the light of day under the guidance of our Comandante en jefe.
Engineer Teobaldo Cruz Méndez, lead investment specialist at the Labiofam State Enterprise Management Group (OSDE), is in charge of a project following the footsteps of those first facilities, looking to increase the country's production capacity for bioproducts approximately eight times over.
The investment plan includes three industrial complexes, located in Havana, Villa Clara and Granma, which are projected to meet practically the entire domestic demand for biofertilizers, biostimulants and biopesticides, in order to guarantee greater phytosanitary protection for crops.
A history of delays
The history of the bioproducts plant in Havana, still under construction, is much longer than it should be, repeatedly plagued by financial limitations and other problems that have unfortunately become commonplace in too many investment projects: delays, irregularities in planning and contracting...
Without passing judgment, briefly summarizing the course of the work is illustrative. At this point, 88% of the industrial erection has been completed and 99% of the civil works.
Teobaldo Cruz explained to Granma that plans for the Havana plant emerged in the first decade of the 2000s, that is, during that period the conceptual design and basic engineering were outlined, with a view toward manufacturing the bacterial control products Bactivec and Griselesf.
Some years later, however, it was determined that the facility could assume the manufacture of bioproducts, in addition to biological control products and Biorat to eliminate rodents and other pests.
This projection, very positive economically speaking, although delayed, began to take shape in 2012, a stage in which financial limitations began to have a stronger impact on the effort.
According to Cruz, the plant passed from one financier to another, until 2015 when the investment was resumed. From that time to date, the project has experienced a series of highs, lows and very lows in financial matters.
Nevertheless, beyond these tensions, the Havana facility still awaits completion of several subsystems and three fundamental systems, including electrical power distribution infrastructure, the waste treatment plant and the fire prevention system.
In the case of Villa Clara, fermentation elements are 65% complete, while work at the Granma plant is behind schedule.
Cruz reported that contracts have been signed with several Cuban companies to conclude work on the unfinished systems, which implies considerable savings.
"The total cost of the three plants comes to 50 million dollars and this collaboration with national industry has allowed savings of between 6 and 7 million dollars," he emphasized.
Two examples suffice to illustrate the savings. The rice scale, originally projected to cost $80,000 USD, can be made in Cuba for $26,000, additionally allowing for savings of 60% in expenses for materials initially conceived for civil construction.
The rice washing system, on the other hand, projected to cost 886,000 USD, can be manufactured by Cuban companies for approximately half that amount.
If all these alternatives can be concretized, the Labiofam investment specialist, stated, the Havana plant will be ready, with a minimum of conditions, by the last quarter of 2021, and Villa Clara, by the third quarter of 2022.
Increasing agricultural yields with new technology
More than a plant, the Havana facility is an industrial complex, capable of producing, in addition to Bactivec and Griselesf, 12 assortments of biofertilizers and biopesticides, and is studying the introduction of others compatible with submerged fermentation technology.
Cruz is confident that the Havana plant will reach its nominal capacity of 5,800,000 liters of fermented broth, equivalent to 3,800,000 liters of finished products. But production will increase in accordance with, among other aspects, agricultural demand and anti-vectorial campaigns.
He added that, in the specific case of bioproducts, the program, which not only includes the Havana industrial complex, but also those in Villa Clara and Granma, could provide supplies for one to 1.5 million hectares.
In addition, the four existing facilities are currently undergoing a capital renovation process based on two fundamental premises: nominal capacity and industrial reliability, in order to achieve higher levels of both production and efficiency.
Today, Cruz estimates, the production of Labiofam's four plants meets around 26% of the country’s total demand for bioproducts.
With the start-up of the new facilities, in addition to increasing production of biofertilizers and biopesticides, the enterprise plans to produce some 1,080 tons of Biorat per year, which will enable it to meet domestic demand and additionally export to other countries in the region.
Likewise, the production of the crop biostimulant Biobras 16, which can increase rice yields up to 25%, is also projected. Between the Havana and Villa Clara industrial complexes, the figures should reach 220,000 liters per year, the engineer reported.
The availability of these facilities, Teobaldo Cruz Méndez insisted, will, first of all, free the country from the need to import a considerable volume of products, and allow the Cuban industry to gradually develop a presence on the international market. In addition, the preparation of specialized technological packages for specific crops and planting seasons will be possible and, above all, the expansion will pave the way for our agriculture to develop at a higher ecological level.
The country produces today:
1,180 tons of biofertilizers.
1,200 tons of biopesticides.
2020 Plan: 568 tons of bioproducts, close to the volume obtained in 2019.
2021 Plan: 653 tons of bioproducts.