by Veronica Mosgrove, La. Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry
What a day! Our ports are instrumental in our trade practices. We started out early and traveled west of Havana to the Port of Mariel. With the Port of Havana restricted by a tunnel located at the entrance of the port, Mariel was created in 2013 to drive foreign investments in economic development.
With it's modern road and rail connection, it can easily become a hub for the port of New Orleans, for example.
Here's what I learned: There is no bulk facility. We'd have to ship by container. The port's scanning station is state of the art. Our ports need to compete.
There is absolute room for growth at the Port of Mariel. Only 25% of the port is complete and officials are working to triple its size as foreign investment expands. Mariel is open for business...and so are we.
An interesting thing happened on the way to the market today. While it looked like a regular farmer's market, I noticed the fruits and vegetables were not in the same condition as we are used to purchasing.
First, they were dirty. It was almost as if they got picked out of the ground and taken directly to market. Second, we are accustomed to beautiful, fresh, clean vegetables. This produce was not the quality we are used to.
A gentleman stopped to speak with me. This former agronomic engineer now works as a security guard because he cannot make a living in the profession he so dearly loved. (See Avery Davidson's earlier post.) He believes Cuba and Louisiana would both benefit from trade agricultural products. He said Cubans need what we have to offer.
A stop in an actual grocery store was also interesting. You get your fruits and vegetables at the outdoor market and everything else at the grocery.
While we enjoy fresh and plentiful produce, I cannot say that is what I observed at either location.