Cuba lifts farmers' supplies ban
The Cuban government has lifted its ban on farmers buying their own
supplies to improve agricultural production.
Small-scale farmers in some parts of the country will be allowed to buy
such items as seeds, fertiliser and clothing equipment from state stores.
Up till then, all supplies had been assigned by the central government.
Correspondents regard the move as another sign that the new Cuban
president, Raul Castro, is prepared to introduce changes to the economy.
They say it is a small step in the direction of allowing private initiative.
The aim is to increase agricultural output and thereby reduce Cuba's
food imports that are currently worth about $2bn (£1bn) a year, says BBC
Americas editor James Painter.
"It has been hard to find supplies and for cattle you need wire and a
machete… You cannot sow fields without fences, so the new measures are
a big improvement," Carlos Manuel Fernandez, a farmer who raises cows on
the outskirts of the capital, Havana, told Reuters news agency.
Push for improvement
When Raul Castro was confirmed as president and took over from his elder
brother Fidel in February, he explicitly said he wanted to improve the
performance of the agricultural sector and meet the basic needs of the
It is the second time Raul Castro has helped small farmers and
Some months ago, he raised the prices the state pays to farmers for beef
There are about 250,000 family farms in Cuba, alongside huge state farms
which are widely regarded as inefficient.
Many analysts say Raul Castro will maintain the political system of a
one-party state, but will introduce small-scale changes to the state-run
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/03/18 16:06:46 GMT