Cuban agriculture
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Food situation

Food situation

Cuba: reduced imports, declining local production.

Cubans today face less availability of food and increasing prices. Food in the rationing is reduced and subsidized meals are canceled. Cuba’s lack of foreign currency – a results of dogmatic mismanagement of the – has reduced the ability of Cuba, a country that depends for 80% on imported food- to purchase food abroad. Local agriculture badly need reforms to give the independent farmers that are up to 4 times as productive as the state producers more freedom and means. because the regime rejects this for dogmatic reasons, 71% of Cuban land is basically not productive or produces very little.
As a result Cubans find it hard to meet the food needs of their families as their low salaries are not enough to purchase the food they need at high Cuban peso or even higher “Peso Convertible” (CUC) prices.

The issues:
– Local production is down.
– most Cuban arable land yields little or nothing
– Imports are down due to inability to pay.
– Rationing is reduced
– Meals at work are canceled
– Cuban economist have been saying for years Cubans needs about 7 times their actual income (before all the reductions) above to meet their basic needs

A. Local production is down.

Cuban food output down despite agriculture reforms
By Marc Frank Marc Frank – Tue Aug 3, 2:43 pm ET

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s food production fell 7.5 percent in the first half of the year despite reforms instituted by Raul Castro and even as the Communist-run country cut food imports, the government reported this week.

The report was not a surprise to Cuban consumers who have complained of shortages all year, particularly in staples such as rice and beans, which were down 1.7 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

The National Statistics Office reported on its web page that, from January through June, there was a decline in just about all types of food production — from rice, potatoes, malanga and other vegetables to pork and eggs.

Production of a few items rose, including yucca, milk, non-citrus fruits and bananas.

The government has repeatedly said it would begin cutting food imports this year, though no data was available. Vietnam, the island’s main rice supplier, announced when the year began that Cuba had reduced orders by 100,000 tons for 2010.

Overall agriculture production is below 2005 levels, according to the government, even though Castro has made increasing food output a priority since taking over for older brother Fidel Castro more than two years ago.

Cuba is in the throes of a financial crisis in part because it spends heavily to import two-thirds of its food.

“It is not easy to find root vegetables and rice is scarce, making matters worse, especially at the end of the month when the ration is used up,” Margarita, a retiree who did not want her full name used, said in a telephone interview from eastern Holguin province.

Santiago de Cuba housewife Olga Machado said things were not much better in Cuba’s second largest city.

“The biggest problem is that everything seems to come and go, forcing you to dedicate a great deal of time to guarantee there is food at home,” she said.


production was not included in the report but this year’s harvest was the worst in more than a century, resulting in a 20 percent cut in the rationed quota of five pounds per month.

The country maintains a World War Two-style food ration that provides the bare-bones basics for a few weeks, after which residents must shop at state-run markets.

President Castro has raised prices the state pays for produce, leased state lands to farmers, decentralized decision making, allowed provincial producers to sell more of their produce directly to consumers and reorganized huge state farms and cooperatives that occupy 60 percent of the land.

However, a decades-old system where the state provides fuel, pesticides, fertilizer and other resources to farmers in exchange for 70 percent of what they produce remains unchanged and often holds back production.

In a speech on Sunday to the National Assembly, Castro blamed administrative errors and a continuing drought for the production shortfalls. He ruled out market solutions as being too capitalist.

Many farmers and farm experts think Castro will have to make bigger changes if he wants more food production.

“Until the state frees up farmers to own outright the land, sell directly what they produce and purchase what they need to do it, production will not significantly improve,” said a local agriculture expert, asking his name not be used.

(Editing by Jeff Franks and Bill Trott)

B: most Cuban arable land yields little or nothing

“Agricultura: El 77% de los suelos es poco productivo
Viernes 30 de Julio de 2010 21:19 Agencias

El 77% de los suelos agrícolas de Cuba es poco productivo debido a un
inadecuado manejo y al cambio climático, lo que dificulta el plan del
de impulsar la producción de alimentos, informó este viernes la
prensa oficial, reportó la AFP.

“El suelo constituye el recurso natural más dañado del país, con el 77%
—unos 5 millones de hectáreas— de la superficie agrícola declarado como
poco productivo” por los “efectos del cambio climático y de una
inadecuada gestión ambiental”, señalo el diario oficial Granma, que citó
al director general del Instituto de Suelos, Dagoberto Rodríguez.

El funcionario informó de la situación a los miembros de la Comisión de
Energía y Medio Ambiente de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular.

Rodríguez, que también alertó de los efectos de la sequía, informó a los
diputados sobre un programa para “mitigar la incidencia de la erosión,
acidez, compactación y baja fertilidad, entre otros procesos
degradables” que afectan los suelos de la Isla.

Cuba, con 11,2 millones de habitantes y una economía controlada en el
95% por el Estado, importa alimentos por un valor de 1.500 millones de
dólares, un 80% de lo que consume el país.

Según el Anuario Estadístico (oficial), el país cuenta con una
superficie agrícola de 6,6 millones de hectáreas, de las cuales apenas
2,9 millones estaban cultivadas en 2009.

C: Imports are down due to inability to pay.

“Publicado el jueves, 06.03.10
Comercio de Cuba con el mundo cae un 34%
The Associated Press

— Cuba logró reducir su déficit comercial en 2009, pese a que
el intercambio internacional cayó un 34%.

Un reporte de la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas disponible el jueves
informó que las exportaciones alcanzaron unos 3.100 millones de dólares
y las importaciones de 9.621 millones lográndose un volumen de
compraventa total de 12.721 millones de dólares EN 2009.

La caída total del comercio fue de 34% en relación a 2008.

El informe indicó que en 2009 el déficit comercial de la isla fue por
6.500 millones de dólares, un 57% inferior a los 11.400 millones de
dólares del año anterior.

Venezuela fue el primer socio comercial de Cuba con un comercio por
valor de 3.389 millones de dólares y que fue un 36% menor al comercio de

Ambos países tienen una alianza económica y política que ha permitido el
incremento del comercio desde el 2000, cuando el Hugo Chávez
tomó el poder y anunció su cercanía ideológica con la isla.

La base del comercio está en una abultada factura de petróleo que
Caracas oferta a Cuba mediante créditos blandos.

China ocupó el segundo lugar como socio de la isla con un intercambio
por 1.821 millones de dólares, un 21% menos que en 2008.

Cuba adquirió autobuses, productos de agroindustria y piezas para el
ferrocarril a la nación asiática, según indicaron en fechas recientes
diplomáticos chinos en esta capital.

por su parte es el quinto socio comercial de la isla
(luego de España y Canadá) con un intercambio en 2009 por 729 millones
de dólares, con una caída del 30% en relación del año precedente.

Washington mantiene un férreo embargo a Cuba presionando cambios en su
sistema comunista de gobierno, pero desde comienzo de esta década
excluyó de las sanciones a los alimentos y las medicinas, aunque obliga
a la nación caribeña a realizar pagos al contado -las compras son
básicamente de productos agrícolas- a la par que impide que mercancías
de la isla lleguen a su mercado, el más grande del mundo.

Un análisis del intercambio por productos señaló que entre los mayores
gastos de Cuba en el exterior están sus adquisiciones de petróleo y
derivados para la cual Cuba dispuso de unos 2.860 millones de dólares,
inferior a lo 4.926 millones del 2008.

Además de alimentos -muchos de los cuales entrega subsidiados a su
población- que en 2009 año alcanzaron los 1.614 millones de dólares,
contra 2.381 millones de dólares del año precedente.
“Caen casi un 35% las ventas de alimentos de EE UU a Cuba
Jueves 29 de Julio de 2010 16:54 Agencias

Las ventas de alimentos y productos agrícolas de Estados Unidos a Cuba
cayeron entre enero y mayo cerca de un 34,5% respecto del mismo periodo
del año anterior, reportó EFE.

Así lo indica un informe elaborado por el Consejo Económico y Comercial
Estados Unidos-Cuba, según el cual durante los cinco primeros meses del
año Estados Unidos vendió alimentos y productos agrícolas al gobierno
cubano por valor de 182,34 millones de dólares, frente a los 278,17
millones de dólares comercializados en esos mismos meses del año pasado.

Entre las principales razones de la caída de las exportaciones
estadounidenses a Cuba la entidad responsable del informe, que tiene su
sede en Nueva York, citó la falta de moneda extranjera. “Las decisiones
comerciales y económicas del gobierno cubano (…) disminuyen su capacidad
para obtener divisas”, dijo Consejo.

Además, consideró que “la generosidad financiera de Venezuela y de
China” disminuye “el interés de Cuba por adquirir productos de Estados
Unidos, independientemente de su coste, calidad o condiciones de entrega”.

“El renacimiento o continuación de las relaciones de importación con
Brasil, Argentina, Vietnam, México, Canadá, Rusia, Irán y Francia, entre
otros” también han sido, a juicio del Consejo, un factor que ha
contribuido a la caída de las transacciones comerciales cubanas con
Estados Unidos.

Algunos de esos países permiten al gobierno de Raúl Castro importar
productos a través de modalidades diferentes al pago directo, como “a
crédito o por trueque”, mientras que, con otros, La Habana mantiene
“intereses políticos” que favorecen el comercio, dijeron los
responsables del informe.

Mencionaron, asimismo, las presiones de los funcionarios de la Isla para
lograr que las empresas estadounidenses con relaciones comerciales con
La Habana presionen más a Washington por un cambio de su política hacia

Según los responsables del informe, el 27% de la comida y productos
agrícolas que la estatal importadora cubana Alimport compró en el
exterior durante 2008 procedió de Estados Unidos, mientras que un año
antes era el 29%.

En 2008 el valor de las ventas de Estados Unidos a Cuba alcanzó su
máximo en la última década, al aumentar en un sólo año un 62% y suponer
710,08 millones de dólares.

En cambio, al año siguiente ese valor descendió un 25,5%, a lo que se
deberá sumar la reducción que previsiblemente se acumulará durante este

D: Rationing is reduced:

“Reducirán productos de la canasta básica

LA HABANA, Cuba, 1 de junio, (Laritza Diversent, -El
director de comercio y gastronomía en reunión con administradores de
comercio municipales informó que en lo meses venidero se reducirá a la
mitad la cuota de granos que se distribuye a la población mediante la
libreta de racionamiento como parte de la canasta básica subsidiada.
Actualmente se distribuyen 10 onzas de fríjoles (negro, bayo o colorado)
y 20 onzas de chíncharos por persona al mes. Se reducirá la cuota de
chíncharos a la mitad, o sea 10 onzas mensuales per cápita.

La cuota de sal también se reducirá. Antes se repartía un kilogramo por
persona cada tres meses. Unos 333, 3 gramos mensuales. La cuota
próximamente se reducirá a 174 gramos mensuales.

Una disposición del ramo también estableció que el yogur de soya que
vende en la actualidad mediante la libreta de racionamiento para los
menores de 13 y mayores de 7 años de edad, se venda de forma liberada en
el horario de las 12 del día. Antes era a las 6 de la tarde. Muchos
padres trabajadores protestan por la medida, alegando que es único
producto lácteo que le pueden dar a sus hijos y que, por su horario
laboral, no pueden adquirirlo en los establecimientos de venta.

Cuba: Reducirán productos de la canasta básica (1 June 2009)

– Meals at work are canceled

“Nearly quarter million state employees to lose free lunches as Cuba
slashes gov’t spending
Published June 11, 2010

HAVANA (AP) — Nearly a quarter million Cuban workers are discovering
there’s so such thing as a free lunch.

The government is dramatically expanding a program that shuts workplace
cafeterias while giving people stipends to buy food on their own. It is
part of a larger plan to chip away at the raft of daily subsidies that
have long characterized life on the island.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Friday that a pilot
program begun in October to eliminate free lunches for 2,800 government
workers will grow to include another 225,000 as of July 1. The move will
save the cash-strapped country $27 million.

The reform is being extended to state bank workers, employees at the
tourism, transportation, foreign investment, basic industry and foreign
relations ministries, as well as workers at the government retail giant
CIMEX and the Office of the City of Havana Historian and the Cuban
Chamber of Commerce.

The new round of cafeteria closings means that in all, about 5 percent
of Cuba’s official work force of nearly 5 million will have to fend for
themselves at lunch time, though the government will provide about 70
U.S. cents per work day to help pay for it.

The government controls well over 90 percent of the and almost
everyone works for the state. through college and health care
are free and housing, utilities, transportation and food are heavily
subsidized, but government workers earn an average of less than $20 per

The reform represents a change in philosophy for the government, which
has traditionally micromanaged many aspects of Cubans’ lives — from
monthly ration books to determining who can own a car.

Cuba’s always-fragile economy has been hit hard by the global financial
crisis and President Raul Castro, who took over from his elder brother
Fidel in February 2008, has said he wants to cut costs by streamlining
the stifling bureaucracy and putting a measure of decision-making in the
hands of citizens.

A simple meal like a pork sandwich from a street stand costs about 25
cents, while pasta bought from a vendor may run about twice that —
meaning some workers could save money.

Still, some were dubious.

“It doesn’t seem good to me,” said Susana Garcia, a 35-year-old who has
worked in the Havana City Historian’s office since 1998. “If you don’t
go to work or you get there late they dock you, and what you get isn’t
enough to buy anything — it’s two packets of chicken per month.”

Others affected by the new rules told The Associated Press they were
called to meetings at work last weekend and informed that their
free-lunch days were numbered.

Interviews Friday with six state employees who will lose them yielded
only complaints, though many declined to give their names for fear of
landing in hot water at work.

Some said that even if they can find a way to bring food from home — no
small feat in a country where things like plastic kitchenware are hard
to come by — they have no way to heat it up without access to state
cafeterias. Others said they work nontraditional hours and will have
trouble buying food during the times they have to eat it.

E:  Cuban economist have been saying for years Cubans needs about 7 times their actual income (before all the reductions) above to meet their basic needs

Even before the crisis Cuban economists – quoted by some of you favorite
sources – have stated Cubans need about 7 times their average sa    lary to
feed a family.
Before the rise from 8 to 25 pesos for a pound of rise Cuban families
were spending 70% of their income on food.
For 10 years now you have refised to makke a family budget for 4 you
cowardly hypicrite just because you know that it will expose your lies.

From 2007 (and availability of food has gone down while prices went up
since then, salaries did not follow suit)

“Los datos oficiales y los resultados de las investigaciones académicas
independientes preocupan. “La última encuesta de la Oficina Nacional de
Estadísticas sobre la situación socioeconómica de los hogares cubanos
revela que en el 75% de los núcleos familiares los salarios de sus
miembros no alcanzan para cubrir los gastos que deben realizar”, afirma
un sociólogo conocedor del estudio. Su moraleja: “Los sueldos son
completados a la brava, con ingresos que provienen usualmente del
expolio de los recursos estatales, siguiendo la filosofía popular de ‘si
no me dan lo que me corresponde, me lo cojo”.”

From a source that is known to be pro-Castro in it’s reporting:

Cubans receive their state salaries and pensions in regular pesos,
which they use to buy a very limited range of subsidised rationed food
items, or to purchase fresh produce in the farmers markets, where prices
are governed by the law of supply and demand..

An average family of four dedicates 75 percent of their salary to
basic food products sold at subsidised prices, which barely cover their
minimum nutritional requirements.

The CUC, meanwhile, provides access to a much broader range of often
essential goods, including food, clothing, footwear, and personal
hygiene and household products – like powdered milk, cooking oil,
shampoo or hair conditioner – in a chain of hard currency stores.

However, “most Cubans merely buy cooking oil, tomato paste and bar
soap” in these stores, said an economist who preferred not to be identified.

“This limited range of products on their shopping lists is a
reflection of the overall low level of income in hard currency, which
barely covers basic needs,” he told IPS.

Although health care and education are free, and utility rates are
extremely low, a survey conducted in Havana at the start of the decade
found that a family of four would require seven times the average
salary to meet all of their basic needs.”

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