Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On the farm

Some items on agriculture that have been piling up:

  • The world price of sugar was 7 cents per pound in May 2002 when Cuba announced a drastic downsizing of the sector, and it was 27 cents last month (see Table 3 here). This has apparently led the government to consider new ventures with foreign investors who, according to Reuters, would operate mills and provide technical assistance to farmers. The article is silent on whether new mills would be built.

  • Granma reported March 16 on efforts to increase milk production and to promote local supply of milk as an alterative to the state distribution apparatus. In 2007, the article reports, milk producers in five municipalities stopped sending their products to market through the state’s distribution system, instead supplying local hospitals, day care centers, and bodegas directly. Today 89 municipalities are involved in this system, and excluding Havana, 55 percent of bodegas are being supplied directly by local producers.

  • This report indicates streamlining to come in the agriculture sector, but it’s vague: it cites the Minister of Agriculture addressing the need to “relocate the more than 40,000 indirect workers” but offers no detail, and it has him implying that more than 100 unprofitable enterprises will be eliminated. Again, no detail – it could be production units like state farms or livestock operations, or (better) it could be state transportation, warehousing, and distribution enterprises. Cuban Colada translates excerpts here. This article from the Economist says the 100 enterprises are all farms.

  • In meetings around Cuba of ANAP, the “mass organization” for small farmers, the farmers have a question for the government: Why does the state hold on to responsibility for distribution when it can’t meet that responsibility, and food rots as a result when trucks don’t arrive? Reuters report here. There’s more on this in yesterday’s Granma, where participants at an ANAP meeting in Havana province blamed “diabolical” bureaucratic red tape for low pork production. The article doesn’t say exactly what the problems are, but it says that they involve water, planning, veterinary, and health authorities, and they have not been ironed out.

  • Republican Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia will lead a trade delegation to Cuba in June.

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