As Cuba’s Food Continues to Rot…

The “restless” deputies concerned over the loss of crops

By Fernando Ravsberg

Parlamentary commissions discussing the same old problems. Photo: Photo: Ladyrene Perez / Cubadebate.
Parlamentary commissions discussing the same old problems. Photo: Ladyrene Perez / Cubadebate.

HAVANA TIMES — A local radio station (Radio Minas) reports that the loss of crops aroused the “concerns” of deputies at the meeting of Parliament, “because many of the products such as tomatoes and mangoes are spoiling in the fields for lack of productive capacity both in the large industries and small processing centers.”

“We are clear of the effort made in urban agriculture and in the increased production of fruit. Today, mangoes are going bad from Guantanamo to Havana, as they are not received because the processing plant lacks containers for them. We’ll end up importing the pulp, which costs much more to the country,” said Avilio Piedra in the town of Quivicán, Mayabeque.

It is paradoxical that the government continues to ask farmers to increase food production when the state doesn’t have the capacity to absorb these crops. And this is nothing new, each year the deputies discuss the same subject but in the end always ends up putting on a band-aid to fight the cancer which returns metastasized.

If the state enterprises are unable to process this production they should stand aside and allow the creation of cooperatives and small private companies. What should not happen is to preserve the “purity” of a [state-centralized] ideology while continuing to squander the sweat of the farmers and food of the people.

9 thoughts on “As Cuba’s Food Continues to Rot…

  • Surely rather than letting excess produce go to waste would it not be more charitable to let the poor and hungry collect a limited amount of excess product on certain days for say 4 hrs work ie cleaning up waste areas, that way it is a win win situation, the neighbourhood gets cleaned whilst the people are rewarded with excess produce! Would it work?

  • Food rots in many counties not just Cuba. In Canada after the farmer harvest the crops many people go harvest what the machines miss. In Cuba the people might go to jail if they did this, There a lack of freezers and bags to freeze the food . In January and again in august 2015 and I and others worked with farmers to build a walk in freezer a juice factory and a frozen food production line. We were able to buy 2 horses with money from Canada make another juice press and send in needed seeds I have seen these farmers and other workers work from first light to dark harvesting the food and bring it to the factory then work all night to make into juice or freeze and then 5 days latter loose when the power goes off. for a day or 3 and the backup generator not work because the parts to fix it sent from Canada by plane have been held up at customs for much too long. we would send the parts again and be told we did not have proper permission a small donation latter and much spoiled food the problem was fixed We do not understand why the Cuban government will not allow us to bring more chainsaws, generators, fertilizers, truck tires commercial freezers and food processing equipment. We have been waiting almost a year for permission to send a small used wind turbine 50kw plus 10 heavy duty batteries a 10 kw inverter charger and been told it is complicated. we tried to expand the coops welding and repair shop to manufacture and rebuild farm equipment needed by the farmers and been told off the record that permission will not come this year. [email protected]

  • Even Raul Castro has now recognized that as described the economic meddling of Marino Murillo has been disastrous!

  • Before scientists, before International Weather forecasting, before Trangenic bioengineered corn, simple farmers were able to till the soil, plant seeds, irrigate, and grow their own food. The more industrious grew enough food to sell to others. For Cuba to do so is not difficult. I agree with you that the Cuban government is not “unintelligent”. However I disagree that the very same government, for the purpose of keeping themselves in power, will not do everything possible, including sacrifice the country. Fidel Castro, in urging a first nuclear strike against the US more than 50 years ago, virtually assured the annihilation of the Cuban population as a response from the US in the wake of that proposed first strike. The tradition of self-destruction in the exercise of power began with Fidel.

  • I find this a very baffling situation. No matter how much one disapproves of the the current Cuban government, they cannot be accused of being unintelligent. Yet, it seems obvious that the low agricultural productivity triggers a negative series of events. Low agricultural productivity causes a need to purchase food from foreign sources requiring much foreign currency. Having next to nothing to export given the agricultural problems, the need for foreign currency requires Cuba to be dependent on other countries and essentially prostitute its culture to tourism and send its best and brightest, such as doctors and teachers, overseas for hire. This in turn is beginning to ripple down through the basic core and culture of the country. Yet, the government has been quite slow in addressing the agricultural productivity problem that is top of this chain that causes these problems.

    I personally reject the proposition of some detractors that the government is willing to sacrifice the country to keep themselves in power.

    I know the solution to the agricultural productivity is difficult and unpleasant compromises may have to be made. I suspect the chain of negative events is more complex than I laid out. But the solution is a good question. Maybe it is time to revert back to the words of Jose Marti and try to conclude what his answer would have been.

  • It is time for a tidal wave of change.

  • Food rotting in ships and warehouses in Havana, food rotting in the fields and orchards from Baracoa in the east to Sandino in the west.
    Fernando Ravsberg is almost correct when he says that: “state enterprises ……should stand aside” but would have been absolutely correct if he had proposed that the State itself should stand aside and allow private enterprise to enter and direct the future of Cuba’s agriculture, for it is currently a disaster with lack of production necessitating ever increasing importation even with food rationing in place.
    The economic meddling of Marino Murillo is clearly not merely ineffective, it is disastrous. The endless discussions by so-called parliamentary commissions like the one illustrated merely serve as an excuse for a collection of incompetent party faithful to sit like zombies and discuss subjects about which they obviously know naught.

  • …and yet the solution to all of Cuba’s structural and economic woes, the big, unnamed, gorilla in the room, “a market economy” goes unnamed. After almost 60 years of failure, you’d think that they would try something new. But it’s never been about providing for the Cuban people, it’s always been about controlling the Cuban people. And so today, more Cubans land on US soil, risking their lives to escape the island of failures.

  • What a joke of a system…

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