Monday, September 28, 2009

Cuba's Farms: From State-Run to Private

GOOD NEWS: Faced with the smothering inefficiencies of a state-run economy and unable to feed his people without massive imports of food, Cuban leader Raúl Castro has put his faith in compatriots like Esther Fuentes and his little farm out in the sticks.

If Cuba is searching for its New New Man, then Fuentes might be him. The Cuban government, in its most dramatic reform since Castro took over for his ailing older brother Fidel three years ago, is offering private farmers such as Fuentes the use of fallow state lands to grow crops -- for a profit. Capitalism comes to the communist isle? Not quite, but close. Raúl Castro prefers to call it "a new socialist model." But Fuentes gets to pocket some extra cash.

"The harder you work, the better you do," said Fuentes, who immediately understood the concept. Castro's government says it has lent 1.7 million acres of unused state land in the past year to 82,000 Cubans in an effort to cut imports, which currently make up 60% of the country's food supply.

BAD NEWS: One of the challenges facing private farmers is the lack of credit and investment. They can work their new farms, but they often don't have enough fertilizer, seed or fuel. There's not enough electricity to run water pumps, Fuentes said, and no one has pesticides.

"This a big problem," said Alvarez, a University of Florida professor. "The government gives the farmers some land, which is good, but they don't give them any inputs. So they tell them, 'Take your old machete and go and fight the sun and weather and save us.' "

~Washington Post article today "Cuba Pins Hopes On New Farms Run for Profit"


At 9/28/2009 7:47 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Cuba is attempting to reform its agriculture sector by introducing the profit motive while in the US we are attempting to "reform" health care by eliminating it. One of these will prove successful.

At 9/28/2009 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faced with the smothering inefficiencies of a state-run economy ...

Wait just a minute, isn't this the same paper that regularly pushes state-run health care in this country? At any rate, this is an old story. covered this in August and it seems that even without the inputs private farmers are outperforming the state:

Despite being an agricultural nation with plentiful sun, soil and rain, Cuba produces barely 30 percent 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 percent of crops and livestock, according to official figures.

Socialism is a lie. It's not about equity, it's about control. That's why only the vilest people embrace it.

At 9/28/2009 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cuba should try helping co-ops to be formed. I have been looking into that subject since co-ops were proposed in healthcare. I even found out it could work in oil, see this link:

Oil Co-op idea

At 9/28/2009 11:36 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

I wonder if the book Animal Farm was suddenly available in Cuba resulting in a reformist farm movement?

At 9/28/2009 12:31 PM, Anonymous feeblemind said...

Even without government sponsored inputs of credit, seed, fertilizer etc, human ingenuity has been released. This will work. Wait and see.

At 9/28/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

It's a start. I'm excited.

Maybe the demand for inputs will induce Raul to open competitive markets in those industries as well.

When one sees that output/acre (hectare?) increases on farms, doesn't it stand that output/input could increase elsewhere?

Of course, that assumes rationality, and if the rational goal of Raul is merely to maintain power, that would overwhelm the previous statement.


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