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Farmers no longer want to remain silent

Farmers no longer want to remain silent / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma
Posted on December 10, 2014

14ymedio, ORLANDO PALMA , Havana, 8 December 2014 — Far away from the
television studios where they fabricate the triumphalist news, and from
the air-conditioned offices where they try to plan the economy, the
farmers are holding the evaluation meetings in their cooperatives, in
anticipation of the 11th National Congress of Small Farmers (ANAP) to be
held in May. A strong of restrictions and complaints unfolds in each one
of these.

Expressed in the language of the official media, the ANAP members are
currently analyzing the projections for their sector with a view to
pushing economic efficiency and “reversing the outcomes of the
production priorities to feed the people.” The president of ANAP, Rafael
Santiesteban Pozo, has declared that the meetings will emphasize the
introduction of science and technology in the cultivation of food, but
the testimonies of several farmers point to other priorities.

So far only 48% of the planned meetings have been held and yet to meet
are those that must be held at the municipal level, first, and then at
the provincial level. But a common denominator is already taking shape
in the issues raised. Among the most repeated is the concern generated
by the delays in the delivery of resources to meet the agreed-upon
commitments. The limited access to irrigation infrastructure and seeds,
and the limitation on acquiring tractors are the main complaints.

The tobacco growers, for their part, complain about not receiving
fertilizers in time, or that the framework to support the fabric
covering the tobacco doesn’t have the required quality; the producers of
roots and vegetables express their dissatisfaction with the lack of
realism in the contract terms and in general the ANAP members don’t seem
willing to shoulder the blame for the shortages or the fact that the
market stands offer goods at unaffordable prices.

On the other side of the table, where the leaders sit, they insist on
strengthening the management boards and work to overcome the cadres,
plus the usual calls to order, discipline and demands. In this way, the
functionaries’ formula for solving the serious problems in Cuban
agriculture is presented in inverse order to that proposed by the men
who work the land.

If these latter are essential for improving the State payments for the
agricultural products, increasing the supply of inputs and lowering
prices, in addition to expanding the autonomy of the farmers when it’s
time to decide what they want to grow and the final destination of their
crops. State leaders, for their part, are proposing to increase
production at any price and they insist that only this will improve the
conditions in the countryside.

We have here a deep conflict on the priorities, whether to first
increase production, or to improve working conditions. What we do know
is that a few months after the congress of the most important farmers’
organization in the whole country, the demands of the men in the furrows
approaches the needs of a medieval country than they do of a
twenty-first century economy.

Source: Farmers no longer want to remain silent / 14ymedio, Orlando
Palma | Translating Cuba –

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