http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/cuba-to-grant-1.3million-acres-to-first-time-and-cuban-family-farms/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Cuba to grant 1.3million acres to first time and Cuban family farms

Posted February 02, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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By Marc Frank | Reuters

Cuba has approved 45,500 land grants in the largest land redistribution since the 1960s, the Communist party Granma newspaper reported on Monday, as the country turns to the private sector to increase food production.

“Deputy Agriculture Minister Alcides Lopez explained 96,419 applications had been received as of January 22 ... for 1,300,000 acres of land,” Granma said, “of which 45,518 were approved.”

Lopez’s comments at a meeting of government leaders provided the first national data on the program begun by President Raul Castro late last year to lease land to workers, private farmers, cooperatives and state companies.

According to various provincial reports, the vast majority of leases have gone to individuals seeking land for the first time and small family farmers.

Communist Cuba has not handed out land on such a large scale since shortly after the 1959 revolution when large land holdings were nationalized and some of the acreage given to small farmers.

Cuba has around 250,000 family farms and 1,100 private cooperatives, which together produce around 70 percent of the country’s food on less than one-third of the land.

The remainder of the land is owned by the state, and half of that lies fallow.

The program is part of Castro’s agricultural reform aimed at increasing domestic food production and decreasing reliance on imports. Cuba imported around 40 percent of the food it consumed in 2008 at a cost of nearly $2 billion.

Castro moved earlier to decentralize agriculture management, once centered in Havana, and increase farm supplies. He has also doubled and tripled amounts the state, which dominates food distribution, pays for most agricultural products.

Castro took power provisionally in July 2006 after Fidel Castro underwent intestinal surgery for an undisclosed ailment, and was formally elected by the National Assembly a year ago to replace his brother.

The land lease program lets private farmers who have been productive lease up to 99 acres for 10 years, with the possibility of repeatedly renewing for another 10.

Cooperatives and state farms also can request unspecified amounts of additional land to work for 25 years, with the possibility of renewing for another 25.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

Member Comments

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On February 02, 2009, publisher wrote:

Interesting story. Good for Raul on this one. A very tiny step but in the right direction. I’m sure there are all kinds of restrictions like being a good communist and of course not having any family relatives that have ever tried to leave the country.

Also, it noted that these farmers feed 70% of the population. Imagine if (when) the productivity increases due to worker motivation (profit) and technology and better equipment?

Cuba would EASILY be an exporter of food as they should have been for decades but no… Fidel and Raul likes to keep everyone poor and dependent on the state.

I’m sure they are worried that Obama will lift the trade embargo. Yikes, bad for Fidel and Raul!

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On February 02, 2009, paul wrote:

But don’t you think that even if Obama lifts the credit blockade, that the Castro Mafia will pick and choose what they want to come in? I certainly think that that is what they would do.

People think that the lifting of the credit blockade means some sort of gushing trade, but trade does not work like that. We already trade so much with them, but it seems to trickle to the nomenklatura and tourists. They trade with us, many European countries, Latin American countries, Canada, yet the country looks shredded (apart from the tourist areas and closed nomenklatura neighborhoods).

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On February 02, 2009, grant frame wrote:

Food is the main import not shreddies,

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On February 03, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

They schould have done this 45 years ago! In the earlier days small farmers, fishermen etc. would sell to the locals and this in turn helped feed the people in the imediate area. It meant that the transport and refrigeration of some food items was not required because they were all local supply. Then the government mandated that they couldn’t do that any more opting for the inefficient state farms leaving the small entrepeneur out of the picture. Big mistake.
Now some in North America are opting for the 100 mile plan trying to buy local food items from their area for pollution, transport and local farmer support reasons.

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On February 10, 2009, Marcel Stanescu wrote:

Hi i want to be a farmer in cuba, can i?

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On February 20, 2009, luckylucien wrote:

Marcel,
You should contact the Cuban gov’t about that.  While I was in Cuba, I visited an organiponico, which seems to be similar to a co-operative farm.  This farm was about 35 km south of Havana, and grows just about everything, tomatoes, various other vegetables, plus cattle and sheep.  They used everything from table scraps to animal manure to field waste, corn stalks etc in the compost heaps.  The adminstrator of the farm, a farmer not a bureaucrat, showed us around the farm.  I found it very interesting that there did not seem to be any bureaucrats on that farm, just farmers.  I know the difference; I have had plenty of experience with bureaucrats in Canada, the Canadian gov’t, has an over supply of not too helpful bureacrats.

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On October 14, 2009, Lucien Lenoire wrote:

I was about to agree with Luckylucien, then I realized it was me.  The Cubans generqlly found the system they tried to import from he Soviet Union both generated bureaucrats and demobilized both workers and farmers.  The landlord capitalist system we “ENJOY” in Canada drives farmers off the land.  Literally thousands of farmers have been driven off the land in Canada;  I work with farmers who are on the point of being dispossessed of their land.  One crop failure or growing the wrong crop and a new worker joins the working class, while leaving land he paid thousands of dollars for,or inherited from his father in the hands of the banks.  This land ends by being acquired for by one of the big companies, or becoming housing developments.  Cherry Creek Ranch , in the area I grew up in became Tobiana Residences. No farmers profited from this development.  Look around, these things happen even in the Land of The Free and the Home (soon to be repossessed) of the Brave.  People I went to school with had to sell their farm, a small cattle ranch in central British Columbia, because they could not compete with outfits like the Gang Ranch and the Douglas Lake Cattle company.  The Canadian Pacific Railway quuit picking up their cattle, but that was only one factor in their going out of business.  Ironically, the younger sons that I knew in School became electrical workers about the same time I did.
Lucien

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On October 14, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Lucien, It’s too bad that this has happened in Canada as it will eventually kick us in the teeth if we need localy grown and raised food. This could be necessary if there is a disaster of some kind and we couldn’t rely on long range transport to bring us our food. I like to support our local farmers as much as I can. This is one place we can learn something from Cuba were they have planted small organic plots right close to, if not in, the comunities. I wonder how the new agricultural policy implimented in august in Cuba is working out letting individual farmers decide on crops, transport, workers etc?

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