14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 5 August 2015 – For an entire year the Ministry of the Agriculture has conducted an experiment on the Isla de la Juventud (Island of Youth) with the “free” sale of inputs, specialized services, and agricultural equipment. During this time, the authorities of the sector have measured and evaluated the pros and cons of a commercial policy based on supply and demand.
The principal beneficiaries of the program have been the more than 700 farmers in the territory who received land under the government’s usufruct leasing policy. Access to tools such as machetes and sharpening files has allowed them to keep down the bad weeds and the invasive marabou in the arable lands of the special municipality. However, a deficient and unstable distribution of certain products encourages the illegal sale of these products, to which the authorities have responded with new regulatory mechanisms.
There is an increase in the levels of production and encouraging results in products such as pork, beef, eggs, milk and grains
Ramon Mirabel, director of the Agricultural Logistics Company, told the official press that one year after implementation, “More than 54 millions pesos have come into state coffers as of the end of July,” and that the products in greatest demand are “animal feed and accessories like machetes, files, boots, packs, medicines and pesticides.”
Along with the profits obtained through sales and services rendered, there is an increase in the levels of production as well as encouraging results in products such as pork, beef, eggs, milk and grains, the latter of which is enough to satisfy the territorial demand.
The farmers in the area complain that the experiment doesn’t include the sale of irrigation systems, that there is a lack of veterinary medications, and that there is no reliable variety in feeds specific to the animal, and as a consequence chickens are given feed intended for pigs.
The experiment will have a second stage when the conclusions emerge, and its application for the rest of the country will be analyzed, gradually
Among the goods that “have fallen” into the illegal market networks are packs, PVC boots, files, and parts and pieces for farming equipment. Pig feed merits special mention, because its distribution was planned without considering that the Isla de la Juventud has many alternative pig breeders who, having no market where they can acquire food for their pigs, are making irresistible offers to those who were authorized to buy what they want under the experiment. One of the solutions applied was the elimination of the “alternative” pigsties.
The experiment will have a second stage when the conclusions emerge, and its application for the rest of the country will be analyzed, gradually. At the moment there is a study underway to determine the specific volumes of demand for each product on the Isla de la Juventud, which will allow a more precise plan to be developed, both with regards to the inputs required as well as the specialized technical services needed. The analysis will probably include a census of farm animals to determine the quantity and variety of feed needed in the territory.