Monday, August 16, 2010

Supply stores open in latest Cuba farm reform move

Supply stores open in latest Cuba farm reform move
By Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is opening stores in the countryside where farm
supplies are being sold freely for the first time as the Communist
government moves to reform and revitalize long-centralized agriculture,
farmers said.

The reforms by President Raul Castro, who took over the presidency from
his elder brother Fidel Castro in 2008, are also preparing to scuttle a
decades-old state farm produce contracting system in a bid to increase
food output and reduce costly imports, according to at least one senior

Raul Castro, who has also opened the door to more private initiative in
retail and small manufacturing, has made food security a signature issue
in his cautious efforts to revive productivity in Cuba's stagnated and
battered economy.

The Caribbean island, badly hit by damaging 2008 hurricanes
and the global economic downturn, imports 60 percent of its consumed
food, a huge burden on its economy, while export crops from sugar to
coffee and citrus are in tatters.

Farmers in Cuba's interior said the new direct-sale supply stores were
just starting up.

"There are only eight to 10 items at the moment, but I was told
eventually there would be 80," Alberto, a farmer in central Camaguey
province who bought two machetes and a sharpener at one of the stores,
said in a telephone interview.

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