Cuban family business produces flour from coconut and yucca as shortages fester

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HAVANA November 28, 2011 On a small farm outside Havana, a Cuban family-run business produces gluten-free flour from bananas, coconuts and yucca, instead of importing gluten-free flour as Cubans look for new solutions to their growing food needs. Crisis.

Cuba imports most of its food, but revenues have plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, tight U.S. sanctions and flooding that have disrupted tourism, once a mainstay of the Caribbean island’s economy.

That has left some, like 38-year-old entrepreneur Gabriel Perez, looking for alternatives.

“There is a problem, that’s undeniable,” said Perez, who recently sold his home and business to live on farmland in rural Havana. “But in Cuba, it’s partly because of the lack of culture around eating what’s on hand.”

He pointed to Cubans’ preferences for rice, pork, and beans, all of which are available locally but many of which require machinery and agricultural inputs to grow at scale.

His business, Bacoretto, is dried and yuca, rice, banana and coconut organic flour is preferred by consumers who are intolerant to gluten, only recently have they been able to find food products that suit their appetites in Cuba.

The products of their process are used to produce coconut oil, coconut fiber rope, vinegar and hybrid products and sweets, Perez told Reuters.

Bacortoto is small and unique, and its products are mainly found in Havana. Perez has eight people in addition to scanning products in small batches, producing 6 to 8 kilograms (13.2 to 17.6 pounds) of flour each week.

Shortly after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution to lift the ban on private companies on the island, Using the 2021 resolution, this business has struggled to find the financing it needs in cash-strapped Cuba, he said.

As of 2021, thousands of small businesses have taken root in Cuba, but many lack the money, infrastructure, supplies and labor power of decades of private enterprise in the communist-ruled country.

“In order to be profitable, there is a need for increased technological capacity and better machinery,” Perez said.

Reporting by Allien Fernandez, additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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