Sugarcane, introduced to Cuba more than 500 years ago, is still extensively used for the production of sugar, energy drinks and other by-products that satisfy important economic and social needs.
Over 20 different types of sugar-derived products, including syrups, alcohol for drinks and spirits, livestock fodder, bio-fertilizers, bio-stimulants, drugs, glucose, and sorbitol are -- in addition to the generation of electricity -- manufactured in Cuba today.
Although most by-products are obtained during the sugarcane harvest, some like alcohol, yeast and synthetic timber from sugarcane bagasse are produced all year round.
In spite of adverse weather conditions associated with the El Niño meteorological event, significant volumes of these byproducts were obtained during the recently concluded sugarcane harvest.
This, in addition to a shortfall in the harvest and difficulties in some refineries, resulted in lower than anticipated sugar and by-product output.
Nevertheless, a 97% production rate for alcohol -- used in the manufacture of rums like Mulata and Santero and other Azcuba group export brands like the emblematic Havana Club -- was maintained.
250 tons of the by-product sorbitol -- 35 tons more than had been planned – were produced from glucose supplied by sugarcane refineries for use in the pharmaceutical industry, for baking and in the manufacture of toothpaste.
The incorporation of six new plants ensured that there was also a 119 thousand ton increase in the volume of livestock fodder produced in comparison to last year.
EXCEPTIONAL RAW MATERIAL
According to experts, more than one hundred products can be obtained from sugar cane, a plant that multiplies its aggregate value and contributes to the profitability of the sector.
Before the economic crisis resulting from the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Cuba produced 36 sugar-derived products.
The country was at the time recognized as one of the most diversified in this sector.
Improvements of the country’s sugar industry in recent years have resulted in an increase in the manufacture of sugarderived products.
New products like Fitomás E, a valuable substance that stimulates the grow of the sugarcane and other crops and whose annual volumes exceed 4 million liters, have been created.
Sugarcane also has great electricity and fuel generation potential, because its biomass has a photosynthetic capacity that is seven-time higher than that of other plants.
It is no coincidence that more sugarproducing countries are developing projects for the generation of sugarcane based electricity at a time when the industry cannot be exclusively financed by fluctuating international sucrose prices.
To this end, 86% of the renewable energy generated in Cuba comes from sugarcane bagasse. The remaining 14% comes from other sources such as wind power, photovoltaic and hydro energy and biogas.
For this reason, Cuba plans to build 25 new bioelectrical plants – 5 as part of a joint venture with the United Kingdom -- in Azcuba group owned refineries.Share on FB Share on TT