Another ‘Great Achievement’ of the Revolution: Havana Turned Into an Urban Garden

As Cuba’s economic situation worsens, citizens are faced the with empty markets. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerElías Amor Bravo, Economist, 31 March 2021 — Current attempts by Cuban leaders to solve the problem of self-sufficiency in the capital are giving rise to exceptional proposals, such as the famous ’Marrero patios’. Well, it’s very simple, you have to forget what they say they want to do, before it’s too late. The communists have gone out of their way to propose a series of actions and programs aimed at boosting the food supply for the more than 2 million inhabitants concentrated in the capital. An activity that fails over and over again. It turns out that the idea of turning Havana into an urban garden was brought up and analyzed by Valdés Mesa in a meeting this past Monday with municipal authorities. It seems incredible that there are people who dedicate themselves to these nonsense, with all that has rained in 62 years.

At the event, according to the State newspaper Granma, the results achieved in 2021, consisting of the planting of 600 hectares of bananas and yucca in the capital, were presented as a success. In an urban area, with high levels of pollution, congestion of activities and a high population density, cultivating the land in something other than gardens or parks to beautify the landscape, is a real nonsense. Where have these banana trees, or cassava, been cultivated? It’s scary, just thinking about it.

Based on information from Granma, an important part of the land planted in the capital has its origin in the so-called “program of 800 rustic farming houses by 2023”, of which 85 (less than 10%) have been finished, with a contribution of 64 tons of products, while another 54 houses are in different phases of construction. And later, it has its origin in the “urban, suburban and family agriculture for the planting of vegetables”, at 3.5 square meters per inhabitant. At the beginning of the year it has grown to 4.34 square meters, of the 10 that the country plans to achieve, nothing more and nothing less than 10 square meters for vegetables.

The meeting also presented the work for the recovery of organoponics, as well as the incorporation of patios and plots for the production of food, the same ones that Marrero said he wants to activate, knocking on the doors of the houses. Of the 113,925 patios and plots, 113,118 are planted. For this there are data.

Various indicators related to the commercialization of agricultural products were also reviewed, one of the weaknesses recognized by the authorities. The municipalities with the lowest amounts per capita were La Lisa (13.2 pounds), Diez de Octubre (15.7) and Boyeros (15.8) due to the closure of leased markets and outlets for self-employed workers during January and February (the repression against the merchants of Decree 30, continues).

It was said that, in the case of the city, up to nine different forms of commercialization of agricultural products coincided and that there was no actual commercialization policy. To reach the plan’s target 30 pounds, it is required to produce more, including through all forms of management, both in production and marketing. Specifically, the authorities insisted that marketing should be reviewed in the different forms of management, so that there is a balance, it is safe and equitable in the territories.

In short, a call was made to grow and plant more in the different areas of the capital, as well as to maintain permanent monitoring of commercialization. It was said that Playa, with a per capita of 17 pounds in January and February, should not only depend on other territories, but has to plant about 60 hectares of banana and yucca. Who was going to say it, convert the luxurious houses of Miramar into rustic farmhouses, with orchards in the patios?

To address the issue of unlocking the commercialization, measures were proposed, such as “the legalization of the various existing routes today (online sales, unlicensed pushcart sellers, for example), as well as the creation of Wholesale Business Units and the lease delivery of agricultural markets. ”Attention was also devoted to reviewing the reasons for Artemisa’s defaults and defaults in provinces such as Artemisa and Mayabeque and the Acopio Company, which resulted in non-payments to producers.

There was reference to the need to comply with the indicators of the plans and ensure that, when the commercialization is arranged and the retail and wholesale networks are stabilized, the benefits of the prices reach the producer, and do not remain with the intermediaries, as if the producers should not have a reward for their work. In addition, it was insisted that agricultural companies must carry out a series of actions to obtain freely convertible currency, citing as an example the Metropolitan Agricultural Company, which continues to inject foreign exchange into the resources that agriculture needs.

They also spoke of the need to complete and dignify the marketing network of agricultural products, ensuring both hygiene and presence, as well as the quality of what is sold and services. Valdés Mesa even spoke of transforming marketing, having products of different quality. It is not only having more markets, but also all these purposes, for the benefit of the population. He also insisted on making better use of the land available in the capital and once again insisted on the need to reach 10 square meters per inhabitant for planting vegetables.

Havana turned into a “fertile garden”. An image that goes back in time to long before the colony. It is incredible that the communists pursue something like this, and, furthermore, they insist on achieving it, dedicating resources and means to this objective. Valdés Mesa concluded by relating his dream that “this wonderful city will be more so when it has all its lands and patios planted,” and all this, within the constitutional precept that points to the need to strengthen the municipalities, with greater autonomy and authority to promote their development. Havana will have to grow yams and taro even in the gardens of the Capitol. At least there are no chickens anymore*.

*Translator’s note: Among Fidel Castro’s many schemes was one to give every Cuban family chicks to raise, as a source of eggs if the chicks turned out to be female, and a source of meat, if male.


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