HAVANA, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura Thursday predicted the 2013-2014 sugar output would be bigger than expected, the Prensa Latin news agency said.
Machado, speaking in the central city of Cienfuegos, said the optimism was based on the island nation's better quality sugarcane, industrial capacity and agricultural potential.
Cuba's sugar production goes into high gear in December, when more than 30 factories begin operating to meet the government's annual goal of processing 1.8 million tons of sugar.
Ten sugar mills began grinding in November, another 32 started up their engines in December, and the remainder will join in by mid-January, for a total of 49 mills operating until the end of the harvest season in April.
According to Noel Casanas, vice president of the state-run sugar group Azcuba, the goal is to increase output by 18 percent, or 200,000 tons more than last season's harvest of 1.6 million tons.
Cuba' s once-booming sugar industry is undergoing a period of gradual resuscitation, and hopes to see an increase in manufacturing of between 10 and 15 percent each year until 2016.
In 2008, Cuba's sugar industry began a modernization process, five years after having reduced the number of factories, previously 155, by 60 percent.
As part of this process, in 2011 Cuban leader Raul Castro replaced the "inefficient" Sugar Ministry with the more business-oriented Azcuba group.