HAVANA – The Cuban government up to last September had awarded usership
of over 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) of land for
agricultural purposes, of which 79 percent is being used for crops that
are mostly being tilled by "individual" farmers.
The amount of idle land in Cuba in 2008 was estimated at more than
1,800,000 hectares (3,200,000 acres), for which the official daily
Granma said Saturday that the opening of land for agriculture and the
use it has been put to since then "has contributed to reverse the poor
state of a large part of that terrain."
The director of the National Land Control Center, Pedro Olivera, told
the newspaper that a total of 1,313,396 hectares (3,242,943 acres) have
been released for use since July 2008 when the government of President
Raul Castro decreed the release of land in usufruct to revive the
The measure forms part of the "reordering" of the agricultural sector
included in the plan of reforms promoted by the government for the
purpose of "modernizing" the socialist economic model of the island.
According to Granma, the fields handed over are basically being used by
146,816 individual users but not owners of the land, who represent 97
percent of the total applications received by the government.
It also said that of the new farmers, a fourth of them had no previous
connection with farm labor, 13 percent were retired, a third are young
people between 18 and 35 years old, and more than 13,000 are women.
The daily said that the new usership system on the island not only
allows an increase in food production but also generates "great job
Last August the Cuban government lowered the prices on several
agricultural articles to stimulate food production, in particular on
plots of land for usership.
The month before, in July, official media said that the right to use
land had been taken away from 9,000 people for "deficient use."
When the usufruct decree was issued in 2008, 51 percent of the total
arable land on the island was either idle or poorly used.
In Cuba, the revival of agriculture to increase food production is
considered a matter of "national security" because the country spends
more than $1.5 million per year on importing 80 percent of the food it