by Yosley Carrero
CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, March 18 (Xinhua) -- As the first domestic soy sauce factory in Cuba has begun to produce Chinese-style soy sauce, the history of such products being imported by the island may soon come to an end.
The factory is part of a project supported by the Chinese Association Min Chih Tang in the central province of Ciego de Avila, located some 400 km east of the Cuban capital Havana.
The project is headed by Mey Ru Chen, a 34-year-old Chinese woman who came to Cuba in 2006 to study tourism at the University of Ciego de Avila, later finding love and building a family.
"This is another way to promote Chinese culture. It is actually a project whose outcome will highly benefit Cuba, as all soy sauce consumed on the island is imported, mainly from Europe. It will help the country reduce imports," she said.
Her products are well accepted by locals, Chen said. "Cubans love soy sauce or 'Chinese sauce' as they also call it here. It is used to dress a wide variety of dishes; that is why it is so popular among the people of Ciego de Avila."
Chen and her husband, Cuban national Karel Morgado, took a six-month training course on the production of artisanal soy sauce in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
"We received high quality training in China. Our main interest at the moment is to diversify our production in the factory and to continue to foster our traditions," Morgado said.
The Chinese Association Min Chih Tang in Ciego de Avila provides a very favorable environment for entrepreneurship and innovation, he said.
With about 10 employees, the first Cuban soy sauce factory has benefited from a government loan and has developed technology to improve its production capacity.
"We have produced some 10,000 units of soy sauce in about six months. After this investment is in place, we are expecting to produce around 90,000 units by the end of the year," Chinese descendant Julio Wong Ramos told Xinhua.
He also noted the importance of expanding their soy sauce sales beyond the province.
"Our intention is to promote our product in the tourism sector, the retail market and Chinese restaurants across the island. It is fundamental that both Cubans and foreign visitors be aware of the existence of high-quality and locally produced soy sauce," he said.