Cuban authorities have recently expressed interest in increasing the cultivation of henequen (Agave fourcroydes) to develop production of ropes and twine, according to CiberCuba:
Enrique Almeida Ruiz—director of the recently created National Company of Natural Fibers—explained to Cuban media that achieving the rebirth of this “crop in the shortest possible time is a priority for the country, without ruling out exploration around other fibrous and multipurpose plants such as kenaf and coconut.” At the moment, the program that intends to develop this crop in Cuba contemplates the planting between 300 and 400 hectares a year. To that end, Almeida Ruiz explained that in 2017, 219 hectares should be planted, and around 260 in 2018.
[. . .] At present there are 809 hectares in development and 542 in production. Henequen is a crop that requires a five-year ripening cycle before it is ready for cutting.
In Cuba, the agave defibering process and its industrial processing are carried out with very old machinery, which limits efficiency even more. Another challenge to “bring back splendor to this crop” is related to the increase in the number of cutters, as well as the need to “certify the quality of planting and ensure proper management,” acknowledged Almeida Ruiz.
The manufacture of ropes and twine in Cuba is intended mainly for the agricultural sector, preferably for tobacco. Of the 532-tonne plan for this year, some 290 tonnes have been delivered so far.