With Sad Faces, the Rice Growers of Villa Clara Give Up Their Share of the Basic Basket

The Villa Clara rice growers vote, unanimously, to give up their quota. (Vanguardia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 November 2023 — The image of the rice growers of Villa Clara voting unanimously to give up the quota that corresponds to each of their families for the basic basket is not exactly that of happiness, but no one will be able to take away from them the praise they have earned from the regime, who thanked them for their “productive response.” The decision will allow 30 tons to go to a care center in the province, says the newspaper Vanguardia, thus guaranteeing that institution’s consumption for one year.

The generous donors belong to the Félix González Viego Political-Productive Movement, founded in May by 69 producers, 52 of whom were from Encrucijada and 13 of whom were from Sagua la Grande and Corralillo. This Sunday, the group held a meeting in the town of El Santo, reviewed the harvest and voted in favor of the donation, at a time when rice is scarce throughout the Island.

In Villa Clara there are 294,000 nuclear families registered, for each of which is planned, in addition to the regulated quota, an extra amount of five pounds at 90 pesos each.

The producers of the Félix González Viego Political-Productive Movement own almost 2,718 acres that have already produced 190 tons of rice

The producers of the Félix González Viego Political-Productive Movement own almost 2,718 acres that have already produced 190 tons of rice for sale through the libreta (ration book), according to the authorities of the Communist Party and the Government, present at the meeting. In addition, 425 tons have been harvested, and 1,159 more are expected by the end of the year, “a fact that contributes to the substitution for food imports and demonstrates the productive drive of the farmers,” the text states.

Generosity, however, does not cross borders, and other provinces will have to do what they can, since Alberto López Díaz, governor of Villa Clara, demanded that they “avoid rice flight” either “as a perk from machinery services or from unscrupulous hands that promote the speculative transfer of productions.”

Orlando Linares Morell, head of the Rice Technical Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, praised the optimal results being achieved in Villa Clara, despite the lack of funding. The situation could improve, however, if the land previously dedicated to the cultivation of sugar cane can be converted specifically for rice.

The official also asked that rice producers maintain the link with the government’s Azcuba centers dedicated to the production of biofertilizers and biopicides, and that they save water, which is essential for this crop. The greatest novelty came from the news that the transfer of state agricultural machinery to the growers is being studied, all this in order to separate themselves from the investments, according to the statements of Linares, who maintained that the growers “according to their income can import equipment from entities in the branch.”

For several years, families have been complaining that the amounts delivered to the bodegas (ration stores) are not enough to cover the month’s meals

At the meeting there were more calls to develop chemicals in the universities to allow improved yield, to increase planting areas and to achieve the self-sufficiency that the authorities announced for the province in 2020 and that is very far from being a reality.

The shortage of rice in Villa Clara, however, is nothing new. For several years, families have been complaining that the amount of rice delivered to the bodegas (ration stores) is not enough to cover the month’s meals, especially when it comes to the staple of any dish on the Island. According to the market prices documented by 14ymedio, the price for one pound of rice in the Mercado de Buen Viaje, in the center of Santa Clara, has reached 150 pesos.

The amount that the population is authorized buy there, however, is not available, so the largest informal sale is made through social media pages – at higher prices – such as Revolico, or by going to small illegal shops usually hidden in the slums of the city, such as El Condado, where the “fleeing” sacks that the authorities are in such great pursuit of end up.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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