Thursday, June 9, 2011

Odds and ends

  • Reuters: With farm sector reforms only partially completed, production has not gone up (see article pasted in comments, it’s not on-line anywhere).

  • Herald: Senator Kerry’s hold on the next $20 million in Cuba democracy program money and his questions about the basic functioning of the program are drawing complaints. The article says he is proposing a $5 million cut, which seems reasonable; the Administration let the entire fiscal year pass, then six more months, before notifying Congress how it would use the money.

  • Coming in December: Oakland-to-Havana flights (Mercury News).


Phil Peters said...

09:50 03Jun2011 RTRS-Cuban agriculture crisis persists despite reforms

* Produce output remains below 2005 levels
* Reforms too slow, lack breadth: expert
* Farmers seek more comprehensive approach

By Marc Frank
HAVANA, June 3 (Reuters) - A lack of financing, inadequate reforms and bureaucracy are undercutting efforts to increase Cuban food production, farmers and local experts said this week, as an official report showed output of most farm products in 2010 was lower than it was five years before.
President Raul Castro has made increasing food production to substitute for imports and to supply a growing food service industry a priority since taking over for his ailing brother in 2006.
But with the exception of a few items, the import substitution program has yielded few results so far.
The 2010 crops of potatoes, root vegetables such as malanga and yucca, bananas, garden vegetables, corn, beans and fruits were all below what they were in 2005, according to the report released by the National Statistics Office (
Export crops, including sugar, coffee, tobacco and citrus fruit were also below 2005 levels. So was pork, Cubans' favored meat.
There were increases in most other livestock, milk, eggs and rice, the statistics showed.
Cuba imports between 60 percent and 70 percent of the food it consumes even while huge swaths of state land remain uncultivated.
"The government is moving way too slowly to implement reforms, which in many cases are half measures in the first place," a local agriculture expert said, asking his name not be used due to prohibitions on talking with foreign journalists.
Castro has decentralized decision making, opened up more space for farmers to sell directly to consumers, leased fallow state lands to would-be tillers and raised prices the state pays for produce.

Nevertheless, the state still monopolizes food distribution and the supply of critical farm inputs despite criticism from farmers and consumers, the expert said, with only 10 percent of food sold on the open market.
Only now have state banks begun offering some small micro credits to new farmers, even as millions of dollars in micro credits offered by third countries, such as Spain, remain blocked due to authorities' insistence that the money flow through a state system that can not guarantee end use accountability.
"Land alone is useless, you need water and seeds and other supplies to put it into production. At a minimum you need a well, to install a windmill, put in an irrigation system and have tools and supplies, and that costs money," central Camaguey farmer Ernesto said.
"If we really want to increase food production we need to face the problem in a less haphazard and more integrated way," he said in a telephone interview.
To date, the agriculture ministry has granted 128,000 leases covering 2.9 million acres (1.2 million hectares), with another 1.7 million acres (700,000 hectares) being offered, the local expert said, adding that at least 30 percent of the land granted had yet to be cleared and put into production. Much of the rest was producing little due to a lack of financing and supplies.
"Three years ago the government began leasing state lands, but only now are they readying changes which increase the parcels' size, extend lease times, allow home and other construction on the properties and other changes. What took them so long?" he asked.

brianmack said...

Change is greatly needed in this country. The people of Cuba have the desire and motivation to be self sufficient. The old guard needs to
be quickly replaced and a system to reward efficiency and determination
should be set in place. If not, there will be another revolution and a new beginning. I abhor bureaucracy and if ever there's a place in the world to show how it doesn't work, it's Cuba.