CUBA STANDARD — Continuing Cuba’s trial-and-error quest for efficiency and a rise in domestic food production, the Council of Ministers on May 31 allowed private middlemen to supply and buy from farmers.
“It’s urgent to put the conditions of all producers on equal footing, free the productive forces, and promote their efficiency,” economic czar Marino Murillo told the cabinet in announcing a package of measures, according to official daily Granma.
All private farmers will now be allowed to relate directly to “natural or juridical persons in regards to supplies, services and products,” according to the Granma article. Farmers can now explicitly sell all production that exceeds planned quotas to “any natural or juridical person,” said Murillo, who is a vice president in charge of coordinating the reform process. Likewise, the sale of fertilizer, seeds, fuel, equipment, specialized services, cattle feed and other industrial sub-products for animal food will be gradually shifting from central assignment by government at subsidized prices to “wholesale and retail markets” at free prices.
This is the first time the government explicitly allows middlemen to supply farmers and buy their products.
The dysfunctional state food distribution monopoly Acopio has been a persistent bottleneck to get domestically produced food to market.
Beginning next year, the government will allow the creation of agricultural supply markets that can sell at free prices on the Isle of Youth. These agricultural supply markets will gradually expand to the rest of Cuba, the Granma article said. Before opening the markets, there will be a six-month training program.
“The land management measures that during decades were put in practice have not led to the necessary increase in production,” Murillo said. “It’s necessary to rectify the distortions that have affected economic results.”
Murillo pointed out that 80 percent of Cuba’s arable land is owned by the state, but 70.5 percent of all land is used by private farmers or privately-owned cooperatives, much of it through long-term leases from the state.
Meanwhile, state farms will be reduced to a few strategic activities, such as citrus, protected crops, registered seeds, pig and buffalo breeding, and species genetics, Murillo said.
Original Article Here