Japan has donated about $3 million worth of machinery to a “new cooperation project” for Cuba’s rice production, AFP reports.

Cuba imports nearly 70% of its rice and spends about $1.7 billion a year importing 80% of the food it consumes. The aid, including heavy equipment such as tractors, harvesters, mowers and tillers, will help boost domestic production to about 2,000 tonnes and halve rice imports within five years. Japan International Cooperation Agency coordinator, Kenichiro Kawaji, told AFP that Japan would also provide technical support such as training for farmers.

Cuban president Raul Castro said that food production is ‘strategic’ and that Cuba is introducing reforms aimed at boosting agriculture, distributing unused land and giving soft loans to farmers. Japan’s ambassador, Masuo Nishibayashi, said, “I am convinced that through our experience and techniques, we can contribute to increased rice production in Cuba”.