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Intermediaries of Control


Supporting Member
DP Veteran
May 13, 2010
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Los Angels, USA
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Slightly Conservative
Intermediaries of Control
Generation Y » Intermediaries of Control

Yoani Sanchez

The Tenth Congress of the National Small Farmers Association concluded yesterday at a very critical time for the Cuban agricultural sector. While on TV they broadcast the long sessions of a closed-door meeting, in our homes the worry continues about how to find and pay for what we put on our plates. Rice, the daily companion on our tables - indispensable for many, boring for others - is the latest product to be added to the scarcity list. In a country where most people feel they haven't eaten if they don't have at least a few spoonfuls of this grain, its absence becomes a source of despair and cause for alarm.

After so many calls for efficiency, the announcement - with great fanfare - of the distribution of vacant land, and speeches sprinkled with calls to work on the farms, the current result is that in the last year agricultural production fell by 13% and livestock production by 3.1%. Clearly slogans and platitudes in the style of "beans are more important than guns" or "we need a complete turnaround for the land," don't translate into food. So what is happening? How is it possible that an island covered in fertile soil is full of people anxiously waiting for a few malangas, some bananas, some yuccas. Why has pork become a delicacy that we can only enjoy once or twice a month at an exorbitant and abusive price. How have they managed to relegate many of our tastiest fruits to plates in an album of things that are extinct. Nationalization, control and centralization have led us here and I'm afraid that we are now trying to dig ourselves out of the hole with the same methods that put us in it.\

The solutions will not come because a call comes from a military uniform for maximum sacrifice and sowing the earth "for the fatherland." Nor will it emerge from a conference led by those who, for a long time now, have not bent their backs even to weed the earth. I hope to read in the final report of this agricultural event the will to actually put an end to all the absurd restrictions. Given the gravity of the food situation I thought they were going to stop demonizing and criminalizing the middleman, without whom boxes of tomatoes will not reach the market. We will glimpse the solution to the lack of productivity when they tell us that the farmers can sell their all their products directly to the population - yes, paying taxes of course - but without going through the "droit de seigneur" imposed on them by the State. If they are not allowed to freely buy agricultural implements, to decide what crops to plant, and how to invest the money they earn from their sales, all that will remain will be the minutes of the conference - one more held without major effects on the furrows or on our plates.
Rice is the staple food of Cubans, a major component in the Cubans diet. Cuba had the highest per capita consumption of rice in the Western Hemisphere, at 120 pounds, in 1958. Actual per capita consumption of rice is 60 pounds, half of the consumption in 1958.

Rice production reached 261,000 metric tons in 1958 which represented 65% of the domestic consumption demand, ranking Cuba fourth in the production of rice in Latin America (UN FAO Statistical Year Book, 1961). Rice production in 2000 was only 369,000 metric tons, moving Cuba to ninth place in the ranking (UN FAO Statistical Year Book, 2000). The rice yields increase from 2400 kg per hectare in 1958 to a negligible 2500 kg per hectare in 2000. According to Radio Rebelde, May 7, 2010, the domestic rice production in 2009 was only 281,000 metric tons. Cuba import rice from Viet Nam and the US, and this year had cut imports by 10%.

Food shortages are a function of an inefficient collectivized agricultural system resulting from Castro regime unwillingness to liberalize Cuba's economy, gross incompetence and criminal negligence.
You can bet your last coin that those like Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba are not left without!
The total area cultivated in 1958 was 8000 hectares, which produced 125,000 metric tons of potatoes for a population of 6.5 million. The cultivation of the potato was intensive, with irrigation and fertilization used in 75% of the planted area. During the winter months the potatoes were exported to the U.S., and imported in the summer. This allow, besides having fresh potatoes all year long, saving in warehouse storage and refrigeration.

The potato producing area in 2010 is 15000 hectares, with a production of 183,000 metric tons for a population of 11.5 million. The per capita consumption of potatoes in Cuba amounts to 50 lb per year, a modest consumption according to FAO. Potatoes were dropped from the list of rationed foods on November 7, 2009. Cubans can buy as much potatoes as they want, when and if they are available, as long as they are willing to pay as much as 5 times more than they used to.

Dropping the potatoes from the ration book is a way to test the reaction of the people, before making the move with rice and bean that are central to the Cubans diet. It is an attempt to test people reactions before more drastic changes are made.
Castro brothers’ regime imports up to 40,000 tons of seed potatoes annually from Canada, U.S., and Holland. Since the year 2000, has been a declining trend in the production of potatoes, in spite of the fact of the priority in the supply of inputs given to the crop.

The inefficient Cuba regime now imports about 80% of the food it rations to the people. The rationing book accounts only for 1,000 daily calories per capita, a third of the calories recommended by FAO. In 1958 the consumption in Cuba was 2,870 daily calories per capita (source: UNO Demographic Yearbook, 1955-1959. FAO).
Has been worth so much suffering? Where is the so cackle “achievements” of Castro’s government? How the 1958 figures of rice production would be now if free enterprise and democracy would have continued in Cuba during those 51 years? Why Cuba is the only country in this Hemisphere where all economic indexes have gone down in the last 51 years?
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