Friday, November 2, 2012

More work to do on the farm

Fixing Cuban agriculture was the first big economic task tackled by the Raul Castro government, and it remains a big piece of unfinished business.  Debts to producers have been settled, producer prices have been increased, 170,000 parcels of land have been distributed to expand private farming, and more – but results are meager, with nary a dent put in Cuba’s food import bill.  The agriculture bureaucracy, in particular the encrusted state apparatus that buys, transports, stores, and distributes farm products, is a formidable obstacle, but its reason for existence is diminishing as the government moves toward elimination of the monthly household food ration.

In this new paper, Reforming Cuban Agriculture: Unfinished Business (pdf), I try to sort out the history and the current issues.

Since this paper went to press, there has been a development involving the land grants.  New laws and regulations allow larger parcels of land to be distributed (previously up to 40 hectares, now 67).  Also, housing can be built on the land, which is granted in usufruct, sort of a no-cost lease.  The maximum term remains 10 years for individuals, 25 for cooperatives or other legal entities. 

The full text is at the Gaceta Oficial, October 22, 2012 issue; since that site is hard to use, a partial text is copied here.  Granma stories here and here.  AP story here.

The Granma story reports that since 2008, 1.523 million hectares of idle state lands have been distributed in these grants, 172,000 to individuals and 2,200 to cooperatives and other legal entities.

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