Cuban government gives out land to over fifty thousand peasants
Agricultural production hindered by lack of consumables
By DPA and AFP, March 22, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Around 56,000 peasants received plots of idle land thanks to a measure adopted by Cuban president Raúl Castro, though his government’s efforts to increase food production through this and other decrees might be doomed to failure as a result of inexperience and lack of consumables, local daily Juventud Rebelde (JR), organ of the Young Communist League in the island, reported today
To date, according to a lengthy report by National Center for Land Management director Pedro Olivares Gutiérrez and published in JR, around 56,000 people have got the land they requested and intend to make productive, a difficult endeavor if we take into account that over 80% of the beneficiaries had no land before now and only 16.7% went to experienced farmers, he said.
“If these new producers go at it untrained, there will be great obstacles to achieve any significant food production,” remarked Félix Palau, an agronomy professor with the University of Ciego de Avila, a province of central Cuba. “Land is being given to many people who have no idea how to deal with it and therefore need to start by learning the nuts and bolts of agriculture, let alone a proper qualification.”
JR pointed out that because of difficulties in handing over the plots and a number of problems facing the brand-new landowners, most of these lands are still unready for farming today.
Giving out idle land comes high on the Cuban government’s list of priorities to boost food production, a matter of national security especially after the island was hit by three hurricanes at the end of 2008 that caused 10 billion dollars’ worth of losses.
President Raúl Castro’s initiative was announced on April 2 last year, but it was in late September that the required formalities started to entitle private farmers, peasants associations and cooperatives to own 13.4 hectares of land, and up to 40.3 if they are already growing any crop.