The high prices that dominate the agricultural markets continues being among the debts pending a solution by the process of transformations taking place in Cuba. The dilemma emerged as expected at the 11th Congress of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) held in mid May in Havana. To speed up food production and curb the prices, government representatives announced the coming into force of new measures, while the producers expressed doubts about the effect they could have, reported the local press.
Addressing 700 delegates and 150 guests, Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero reflected on the difficulties that continue weighing down the agricultural system, despite the package of 17 measures approved since late 2013 to improve the regulations and the working environment of the cooperatives, a fundamental structure in food production.
Rodríguez Rollero commented, however, that the steps taken from 2014 to 2016 to perfect the work of the agricultural and forestry sector will be deeper and more advanced since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Next year seven already approved policies should be generalised and consolidated. They include from the mentioned regulation to strengthen the cooperative forms to the sale of inputs and equipment to agricultural producers, the agrarian commercialisation, the handing over in usufruct of lands and the direct sale by producers to the tourist sector.
To resolve one of the problems that most bothers and hinders the farmers, the Finance and Prices Ministry will implement a credit of 1.08 billion pesos to settle outstanding debts in the payment of food collection enterprises to producers.
At another moment, Economy Minister and Vice President of the Council of Ministers Marino Murillo recognised the essential mission of agriculture in the country’s economic development. Because of its scarce productions, Cuba is forced to import every year some two billion dollars in food, despite the fact that these products can be produced on national lands, like rice, milk and chicken. According to Murillo, Cuba could reduce by half the annual food imports.
The economy minister reported that on June 1 new prices would come into force for the sale of agricultural inputs to farmers and cattle ranchers and to buy their productions. This measure would favour the prices for the collection of rice, potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, beef and pork, coffee and milk, while beans, another basic foodstuff in the Cuban diet, will remain at its current price.
Some ANAP Congress delegates expressed concern in the face of the policy geared at standardising the prices for inputs in food collection. Angel Chaviano, president of the 17 de Mayo Credit and Services Cooperative (CCS) in the central province of Villa Clara, said that the solution is not in continuing to raise the purchase prices but rather in a timely distribution of the resources, which many times arrive too late for the crops.
Several delegates expressed their fear that those price adjustments for producers will lead to inflation in the supply of food. “Today the people’s wages are the same and the production prices continue increasing,” warned Chaviano, according to the daily Granma.
Murillo, on the other hand, estimated that the new price policy guarantees 30 per cent of the profits for producers, with which inflation in the retail network should be avoided.
The government decision – ratified at the ANAP Congress – of expanding expenditures to import machinery, irrigation systems and other equipment was more encouraging for the private and cooperative producers. This measure could resolve the strong deficit in yields and productivity, one of the problems that have been affecting agricultural production the most for decades. (2015)
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