Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Farming News

You may recall that some months ago Raul Castro announced plans to allow private farmers to lease State-owned agricultural land, injecting some much-needed, old-fashioned capitalism into a food production system that has been a colossal failure for … well, for close to 50 years.

Under the new system, farmers could apply to lease up to 99 acres of unused land for a period of 10 years, with the possibility of renewing the lease for a further decade, and do what farmers are supposed to do: grow food.

Now, the official Cuban media has reported that close to 96,500 applications have been received so far for the lease of some 1,300,000 acres of land.

However, for reasons that remain unclear, only about 45,000 – or less than half - of the applications have been approved by the bureaucrats in Havana.

For the record, about one third of all arable land in Cuba is worked by private or family farmers, with the rest of the land controlled directly by the Communist Party authorities through various ministries.

You won’t be surprised to hear that while half of the land controlled by the State remains unused, the private farmers produce about 70 per cent of all the food grown on the island.


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