Cuba – This weekend the National Assembly of People’s Power ended, during which the difficulty of the island in terms of agricultural production was evoked. The Cuban population complains about the lack of access to many basic products and the high prices.
The low agricultural production occupied the debates of the Cuban parliament this week, at a time when the island is forced to import “practically 100%” of its food, according to the president of the legislative body.
On Tuesday, at a committee meeting, Esteban Lazo, president of parliament, claimed that “practically one hundred percent of the basket today is being imported and is not being produced” in the countryside, one year after the approval of the food sovereignty law.
“We are tired of programs, studies, diagnoses. And where is the solution to the problem?” Lazo said. Only in 2019, more sugar, rice, corn and pork were produced, among other products, than currently, he added.
The president of parliament maintained that “100% of the beans are being imported and the country has no money” to buy abroad.
The first vice minister, José Luis Tapia, recognized the decrease in production this Friday by offering a report on the sector before the plenary session of the National Assembly, meeting this week in the first period of sessions that ends on Saturday.
“More than 1,500 million dollars the country imports in corn, soybeans, rice. We have to produce that in the country,” he said.
Tapia admitted the lack of fuel, fertilizers and herbicides, as well as labor in the fields, among other problems, but blamed farm workers and municipal authorities in part.
“More than the content of the law, it is the lack of work to produce food. To go to the concrete: we do not have a productive culture in these times,” he complained.
“To produce food, you don’t need so much paper, you have to turn to the land!” he exclaimed.
He exemplified products such as milk, which the state distributes only for children under seven years of age, while the rest of the population has to buy it in private stores for around 2,000 pesos (16 dollars at the official rate) per kilo of powdered milk, which is equivalent to a monthly minimum wage in Cuba.
“There are conditions to produce more than 400,000 liters of milk in Cuba and today we have reached 320,000,” explained Tapia.
In the midst of the worst economic crisis in three decades, Cuba approved small and medium-sized companies in 2021, which are quickly gaining presence in the sale of food and basic products.
However, for ordinary Cubans they are extremely expensive due to the dramatic devaluation that the peso has registered in the last two years, skyrocketing prices.
This 2023, inflation will exceed 39% last year, according to official forecasts, although analysts estimate that in 2022 it would have reached triple digits.