* Cuban sugar monopoly optimistic as harvest nears
* Raw sugar production seen up 20 percent
* Output was 1.5 million tonnes in 2012-13
HAVANA, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Cuban raw sugar production will increase some 20 percent during the coming sugar harvest, to 1.8 million tonnes, official media reported over the weekend.
The country is “at the doors of a harvest during which Cuba proposes to increase 20 percent its contribution of sugar,” state-run Radio Progreso said on Saturday, reporting on a national meeting of the Sugar Company Group AZCUBA.
Cuba produced 1.5 million tonnes of raw sugar during the previous harvest, short of the 1.7 million tones planned, as Hurricane Sandy, organizational and industrial problems and antiquated machinery took their toll.
The purpose of the meeting was to review preparations for the upcoming harvest that begins in December and runs through April. It came at the conclusion of the September cane estimate used to begin negotiating export contracts.
Between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of Cuba’s sugar production goes to domestic consumption, 400,000 to an export agreement with China and the remainder other destinations.
The Sugar Ministry was closed two years ago and replaced by AZCUBA, with subsidiaries in each province.
The company hopes to reverse a long decline in output from 8 million tonnes in 1990, and produce 2.4 million tonnes by 2015.
Ample rainfall over the last six months should help the coming crop as just 10 percent is irrigated. (Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by David Gregorio)