Private Farms in Cuba Are Key to Food Shortages
St. Petersburg Times -- Despite being an agricultural nation with plentiful sun, soil and rain, Cuba produces barely 30% of the food it needs, due to an acute lack of resources and the inefficiency of its state farm sector. About 250,000 small family farms and 1,100 cooperatives till only about one-quarter of the land, yet still manage to outperform the state farms, producing almost 60% of crops and livestock, according to official figures.
The Cuban government recently began handing out idle state land to private farmers across the island in an effort to boost food production. Cuba is hoping that private farmers can literally plow the island out of a huge $11 billion trade deficit this year caused by rising food import costs and falling exports. The policy marks a major shift away from inefficient state farms that once occupied the lion's share of the island's agricultural land.