Sugarcane, plant of the genus Saccharum, family Poacea Gramínea is a plant from Southeast Asia. The Muslim expansion introduced the plant to the European continent, to the coastal area between Malaga and Mortril, being this strip the only area of Europe where rooting. Later the Spaniards took the plant, first to the Canary Islands and then to America. The approximate composition of sugar cane is; water 70%, sucrose 14.5%, fiber 13%, ash 0.5% sugars inverted 1%, fat and wax 0.2% gums 0.2%, nitrogen bodies 0.4% and free acids 0.2%. The botanical composition of the cane is 49.9% stem, 24.6% leaves, 12.7% roots, 9.0% bud and 4.5% rhizome. Sugarcane is a plant of group C4 and fixes around 42 net tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, making it one of the most significant sources of environmental improvement. This plant also provides between 13 and 15 tons of usable biomass at 40 tons per hectare, plus cane per hectare plus usable biomass. Today cane is not regarded as a crop from which to extract only sugar, but as a plant with a large capacity to capture sunlight and store energy, whose biomass is convertible in addition to food, into electricity, fuel, paper, animal feed and in raw material for the alcohol industry; able to produce countless lines from the cane. In general it is accepted that the cane contributes up to 20 times more energy than the one that consumes, in comparison with the forests and forestry that contribute 5 to 1 and the cultivation of the corn that contributes 3.6 times by 1. Its demand grows every day in all uses, BUT THE FIRST IS TO HAVE THE ROD, and produce it competitively, safely and stable. Any industrial development has to begin by insuring the raw material.
Sugarcane arrived in Cuba 500 years ago.
Sugarcane, so important for national life during these five centuries, arrived in our country from Santo Domingo, brought by Spanish sailors, who disembarked at Punta de Güincho in the Bay of Nuevitas, on May 13, 1516.
The initial development of sugar cane cultivation in Cuba was very slow. It took almost three centuries for the area planted and the sugar production, which was very rudimentary in its beginnings, to begin growing in trapiches moved by oxen or by water currents, until barely 200 years ago when it began to be used. the steam to move the mills and concentrate the guarapo; with it the accelerated growth in the production of cane and sugar in our country
Don Álvaro Reynoso, a worldwide promoter of the technological development of sugarcane
Álvaro Reynoso was a great Cuban scholar born in a coffee plantation in Alquízar on November 4, 1829. He was a brilliant student at the San Cristobal de Carraguao school in Havana; at the University of Havana, at the University "La Sorbonne" in Paris and outstanding student of great chemists of the time such as Pelouze and Dumas.
He worked, studied and researched in Cuba and abroad, chemistry, agronomy and other disciplines, at the Institute of Chemical Research, was a member of the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana, of the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country. He studied and researched in the laboratories, in the fields, in the sugar mills, in experimental plots, in the TARTESIO sugar mill, owned by his family, located near the current Quintín Banderas plant in Villa Clara and in sugar mills of Trinidad, Matanzas and Güines time.
His experiences, as the best connoisseur of the cane, led them to the book considered his masterpiece: TEST ON THE CULTIVATION OF THE CANE OF SUGAR, written in 1862, translated into several languages and that served as a GUIDE to those who began to spread through the world this crop.
José Martí wrote in the newspaper PATRIA: "There is in the youth of today the same energy that conquered imperishable laurels to the youth that was worthy representative, in science and in the just European fame, the illustrious chemist, the Cuban Alvaro Reynoso "
The councils of Reynoso were followed by many farmers in the world who were beginning to develop the cultivation of sugarcane. The book he wrote was translated into Dutch and other languages and is still taught at universities in several countries.
In Cuba around 1850-1860 important technological advances were introduced for that moment, and although routine practices followed for centuries were not abandoned, in many of the sugar mills where the first records of agricultural yields appear, as in some of Matanzas, remarkable productions were obtained .
The link of cane with the emergence of the Cuban nation
The Cuban nation was born in the batey of the "La Demajagua" sugar mill, that dawn of freedom and foundation, on October 10, 1868, where the sound of the same bell that called the cuts and the chores, called that day to do the homeland; it was the crucible that melted the master and the slave, the rich and the poor, the whites and the blacks, lives and haciendas took risks with a supreme purpose, all united the ideal of being free and making the Cuban nation! in all its good and bad runs have been related to the adversities or benefits that have had the sugar production and the prices of this product.
After "La Demajagua", site chosen by the Father of the Nation to initiate the struggles for our independence, the number of ingenios linked to the facts of our history and our struggles is very great. They can be "La Mejorana", "Las Ninfas", Mabay, Constancia, Nazábal, America, Miranda, Narcisa, Australia and many others. In each of them there is a bit of history, love and riches contributed to the country.
In our wars of independence it was the machete of cutting cane the most feared weapon by the Spaniards, and a Mambí general would write to the General in Chief of the Liberation Army, Máximo Gómez, that: "the arsenals of Cuba were in their mills". Antonio Maceo would be the founder of the sugar industry in Costa Rica during his exile in that country. The remains of the sugar mill "La Mansión" still have memories of when the "Titan de Bronce" was "tachero" (puntista) there.
Directly in Cuba, we lived on sugar, some 2.5 million people. The sugar workers feel a great love for their sector, for their country, for their sugar plantations and plantations. In years of crisis they have always been committed to maintaining ingenuity. The Central Tinguaro was rebuilt by its workers, after a fire that destroyed it, in the 40s, without earning a single cent. Sugar was his livelihood, the support of him and his family. It had to be maintained, even if that income was not enough, and facing an endless downtime
The production of cane in Cuba was always based on extensive cultivation, for centuries and this heritage has reached the present. Álvaro Reynoso himself refers to this in his book. From the statistics available after 1927, agricultural yields were normally in the order of 40,000 arrobas per caballeria as a national average, with good efficiency in the industry, which had high quality raw material, clean and not chopped , in a constant way for each milled hour. In the decade from 1951 to 1960 the average was 40.1 tons per hectare.
Traditionally, agricultural yields in Cuba have been low. In full "Dance of the Millions" in 1925 when the Cuban landowners and settlers went to Java, they saw how there, where they cultivated with the Reynoso system, they obtained 16 tons of sugar per hectare, while in Cuba only 4 were obtained.
The harvests at the time of the "Dance of the Millions", during the 20s, were made with 40,000 arrobas per caballeria, (1 cavalry = 13.42 ha) extensively, not because a better technique was not known, or because sugar did not provide income, but because of the strength of the routine on agriculture and the weight of economic crises on sugar prices and financing.
When putting into practice in a demonstrative way, technologies specially designed for Cuba, such as Álvaro Reynoso's, and obtaining high yields with them through intensive means, the conclusion was reached "that if there was too much cane left to produce more", and it was followed with extensive technology, seeding spacing, and with little attention to plantations, generally, except for exceptions such as Central Baraguá, Cuba and other places. Someone wrote in the 1940s that outside of India, Cuba was the most routine and backward country in sugarcane production.
Despite the extensive production, Cuba had great potential to recover its sugar production, even in the worst conditions ..., at the end of the War of Independence, starting from the total ruin, with cane fields and mills turned to ashes, for the " Tea Incendiaria ", production went from 200,000 to 5 million tons, growing 25 times in 25 years.
The best yield stage was between 1975 and 1990, where it was averaged at 51.8 t / ha, particularly from 86 to 90, where 54 t / ha were obtained. In 16 sugar mills (Habana Libre, Pablo Noriega, Costa Rica, Free America, Orlando Nodarse, Rafael Reyes, Archimedes Colina, Hector Molina, Reebberto Abad, Ranulfo Leyva, GA Mañalich, Augusto C. Sandino, Argeo Martínez, Chile, Camilo Cienfuegos and The Reynaldo) reached an average agroindustrially between the good world standards: between 10.0 and 13.8 t sugar per ha. Many of these devices today do not exist. At present our average agricultural yield is about 40 t / cane / ha for various reasons, approximately 60% of the yields of producing countries of Central America and the Caribbean, according to FAO data
The production of sugarcane, currently in Cuba, rests on almost one thousand production units with a long tradition and culture, with which the 13 existing sugar companies have contractual relationships and a mutually advantageous link.
The production units are composed of xx Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC), xx Cooperatives of Agricultural Production (CPA), xx Cooperatives of Credits and Services (CCS) and xx State Farms.
The UBPC: These are worker cooperatives that unite voluntarily with the purpose of agriculturally exploiting state-owned lands, which they receive in usufruct, counting on autonomy in their administrative management and collective ownership of production and their means, to achieve greater production volumes with lower costs and reduce as much as possible the necessary material resources. The state company to which they are linked has state control over them and must comply with the objects defined by the State in accordance with the interests of the nation.
The CPA: They are the result of the voluntary association of small farmers, who unite their efforts for agricultural production in a collective, socialist, on the basis of the unification of their land and other means of production. It is characterized as an economic and social organization, which enjoys autonomy in its management with respect to the State, has its own legal personality and develops its activity within the general interests of society, in accordance with cooperative internal democracy and the common work of its members. The maximum legal authority is the Assembly of Associates, which democratically elects its board of directors, president and other positions, which must report periodically to the assembly on all the management for its approval.
The CCS: They are the result of the voluntary association of small farmers who maintain ownership of their land and other means of production, as well as the production they obtain from their farms, which are linked with certain economic, productive, political interests. and social commons to negotiate with the State, its business organizations or other entities. The highest authority is the assembly of associates, who democratically elects its president and other board members, who report to the members, periodically, in the assemblies.
Services received by cane producing units of AZCUBA companies: (INICA, AZUMAT)
For cane production, the sugar companies and specialized companies subordinated to AZCUBA Sugar Group, provide innumerable services especially for planting, the main cultural activities to the plantations, cutting and shooting of the cane, logistics, engineering works, the technicians and scientists, and many others.
The Technical Services Company (AZUTECNIA) provides services related to mechanization, which impact areas such as communications, engineering works, irrigation systems, integral repairs of equipment, engines, parts and pieces. All this complemented with advisory and training services that guarantee an efficient exploitation of the equipment.
The Transport Company (TRANZMEC) provides cane transportation services, general and specialized cargo. Executes and controls investment programs, reconstruction and repair of sugarcane roads and earthworks.
The Logistics Company (AZUMTA) guarantees the assurances and supplies required for cane production, according to demand, using a network of warehouses throughout the country and with transportation service included.
The Caña de Azúcar Research Institute (INICA) offers producers a range of technologies, equipment and technical services related to research applied to the cultivation of sugarcane.
For this, both the production units and the companies have a large and constantly renewed park of tractors, combines, trucks and other equipment
The productive cycle of the cane according to the technology we use is 5 cuts in 7 years, for which we have to demolish and plant 14% of the area each year. The harvest of the different strains will be programmed taking into account the local behavior of the optimal periods that are generally:
• Reeds: From the beginning of harvest in November to February 28 or 29
• Cold rods: From January 15 to March 15
• Spring of the year: From March to the end of the harvest in April-May.
• Yearlings of the year: During the entire harvest period (November-May). In general it is desirable that the average age of cut of the total of the strains be between thirteen and fourteen months.
This wonderful plant, protective of the environment, where everything is usable, which today besides sugar, is the cane of bioelectricity, of biofuel, of animal feed, of paper, of bagasse boards that can substitute wood, of plastics, rum, which provides man with food, energy and fibers, 3 inputs of the greatest importance in a world where we already live more than 7 billion people.
One ton of cane stalks is sufficient raw material to produce between 100 and 120 kilograms of sugar, 25-30 kilograms of final honey and the necessary bagasse to cover all the energy needs of the process and generate 25-30 KW / h of surplus electricity in simple technology systems.
In diversified systems, or more technified widely used in the world that same ton of cane can represent 70-80 liters of fuel alcohol for vehicles that do not pollute the environment, and 120 -130 Kw / h of electricity, enough to cover the needs of a family in a house for a month, apart from sugar, honey, paper, animal feed and others in which the industry itself can convert the cane into them.