14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 6 November 2014 – A meeting that was meant to sum up achievements turned into a flood of complaints and demands. The Review Assembly of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Cienfuegos was the scene where some of the impediments faced by the peasantry of the region were heard.
The Assembly was held at the Martyrs of the Barbados Agricultural Production Cooperative in Rancho Luna, and the officials had to placate the attitudes of the angry farmers in the area. “They came to convince us to make a greater sacrifice, but the truth is I’m already tired of this,” explained a vegetable farmer in the region who participated in the meeting and requested anonymity.
The exodus of workers to other sectors was identified as one of the causes that have led to farm production not meeting the annual plans. The cooperative currently has 108 members, but the workforce is “unstable,” according to the local newspaper 5th of September in it digital edition this Thursday.
“The guys don’t stay with us because we don’t have housing. And they get married, have kids… create families. Then it’s logical that they seek work that can gratify their interests,” Mileydis Terencio Ramírez said at the ANAP meeting.
The official media, however, only reports a part of the anger expressed by the farmers who attended the meeting, according to what several in attendance told 14ymedio. “The working conditions here are bad, so people leave because they can’t progress,” said Lazarus, who works cultivating beans and yucca in the Rancho Luna area.
According to the official press, “nearly 75% of Cuba’s food program depends on how much the farmers can produce.” However the southern cooperative itself hasn’t been able to “satisfy the people’s real needs.” The Martyrs of Barbados has been proposed to conclude this year with 7 million pounds of product, well below the more than 22 million pounds of 1988.
Difficulties with inputs also negatively influence the fieldwork. Farmers complain of ‘high price, low quality’, and also the lack of administrative management to ensure a stable supply of products like footwear to work in agriculture.
“Now they send us 20 pairs of boots. What does that mean for 108 workers? Sometimes we have to work barefoot,” Wilfredo Arias Arias said at the meeting.
The official report in the 5th of September newspaper didn’t escape pessimism concluding that “while the debate resolved nothing, at least it hinted at the problems facing an industry, the peasantry, the job of feeing the people.”