BY RAISA PAGES | Granma International staff writer
• The cooperative-campesino sector contributes 53% of root vegetable crops, 56% of fresh vegetables, 90% of tobacco, 75% of corn, 76% of beans, 73% of fruits, 73% of coconut, 58% of coffee, 63% of cocoa, 61% of honey and 18% of sugar cane
SOME 500 new Credit and Services Cooperatives have arisen in the last few years as the result of the handing over in usufruct of more than 300,000 hectares of land. Cuban campesinos hold 25% of the island’s cultivable land.
From 1994 to date the state has handed over 316,000 hectares via resolutions that regulate the concession of idle land for the cultivation of tobacco, coffee, extending campesino farms and for family self-sufficiency in food, basically rice.
More than 57,000 persons have joined the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), bringing the total membership of this organization to more than 300,000 throughout the country. These producers are linked to some 2,800 Credit and Services Cooperatives (CCS) and 1, 108 Agricultural Production Cooperatives (CPAs).
Orlando Lugo Fonte, ANAP president, stated that the organization’s statutes allow any person who legally holds and cultivates a plot of land to enter into association together with others in the same category. Thus, he clarified, those benefiting from land in usufruct for cultivation can become members of that non-governmental organization.
On the 44th anniversary of the first Agrarian Reform Act, Lugo explained that from the 25% of cultivable land in Cuba - around one million hectares - the cooperative-campesino sector contributes 53% of root vegetables produce, 56% of fresh vegetables, 90% of tobacco, 75% of corn, 76% of beans, 73% of fruits, 73% of coconut, 58% of coffee, 63% of cacao, 61% of honey and 18% of sugar cane.
In terms of animal farming, ANAP associates contribute 36% of milk, 57% of pork; have 68% of the island’s sheep, 86% of its goat herds, and 77% of its horses.
In the first quarter of 2003, the cooperative-campesino sector cultivated 15% of root vegetable, fresh vegetable and grain harvests, after the restoration of plantations affected by three hurricanes that passed over the island: Michelle in November 2001, and Lili and Isidore in October 2002.
Lugo stated that future strategies for the country’s agricultural development have been under discussion since December of last year, bearing in mind that intensive exploitation based on diesel consumption and mechanization could not be maintained.
Now that electricity is generated with national oil it is cheaper to use that energy in drainage systems. For that reason one of the most important programs is to replace diesel pumps currently in use with electrical motors.
In Habana province, the territory contributing 30% of everything produced in the cooperative-campesino sector, the irrigation systems for 13,400 hectares belonging to the four main CPA’s involved in root and fresh vegetable cultivation have been electrified.
The Ministry of Agriculture is committed to the electrification of the 268,000 hectares of cultivable land throughout the country, of which 25% corresponds to the campesino sector, the ANAP president announced.
He added that despite inclement weather conditions, the tobacco harvest is proceeding well and that this year is recording a slight increase in milk yields from campesino dairy farms.