Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to help small farmers

Last summer, it became known that the Obama Administration was interested in helping independent farmers in Cuba. But its means of doing so was through the USAID program, apparently through the same Bush Administration modus operandi that landed USAID contractor Alan Gross in jail.

Spain is taking a different approach, which is to talk directly to the Cuban government (!) about an assistance program, and to negotiate the way it will work.

Reuters is reporting that Spain’s effort may come to fruition. The idea is to provide loans to Cuban farmers, and it has been under discussion for years. If things pan out, 490,000 Euros will be provided for this purpose next year with a Cuban bank administering the loans.

Credits to farmers or small private cooperatives would address one serious impediment in agricultural production, especially among the recipients of the 100,000 land grants made in recent years. Small-scale credit would also make a big difference to entrepreneurs and the new cooperatives that are expected to be created in the retail and service sectors.

Here’s hoping that Spain succeeds.

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