Cuba has approved 45,500 land grants in the largest land redistribution since the 1960s, the Communist party Granma newspaper reported Feb. 2, as the country turns to the private sector to increase food production.
“Deputy Agriculture Minister Alcides Lopez explained 96,419 applications had been received as of Jan. 22 … for 1,300,000 acres (650,000 hectares) of land,” Granma said, “of which 45,518 were approved.”
According to various provincial reports, the vast majority of leases have gone to individuals seeking land for the first time and small family farmers.
Communist Cuba has not handed out land on such a large scale since shortly after the 1959 revolution when large land holdings were nationalized and some of the acreage given to small farmers.
Cuba has around 250,000 family farms and 1,100 private cooperatives, which together produce around 70 per cent of the country’s food on less than one-third of the land.
The remainder of the land is owned by the state, and half of that lies fallow.
The program is part of Castro’s agricultural reform aimed at increasing domestic food production and decreasing reliance on imports. Cuba imported around 40 per cent of the food it consumed in 2008 at a cost of nearly $2 billion.