stories from cuban farmers in sancti espíritus

From the newspaper, Escambray in Cuba.


Deyvi Pérez Martín, first secretary of the Party in the province, during the annual balance meeting of the Espirituana Agriculture said, "It cannot be possible that the State Agricultural Markets do not have food and the food carts offer products that have quality and are expensive. Where does that production come from? Why wasn’t it contracted for? Of course it comes out of the same furrow, but it deviates; Where do you get the production that does not reach the state markets?


When it comes to selling crops, not everything is honey over pancakes.


"Acopio has the strongest laws, you arrive with merchandise to the point of Seibabo and quality is imposed, arbitrary decisions are made, you go with cart of bananas and they tell you, 'It's second quality class, if you want to sell it go ahead, and if not I’ll take it’. Look, I had bananas for sale on March 15, 116 quintals, of those 63 were of second quality, then I checked the food in the market, because I know the production over at Yagüey, and I never saw second class bananas for sale,” stated Rigoberto Hernández Rodríguez, head of the Santi espíritus post.


Financial reasons, Acopio (State Collection); the farm producers speak


For financial reasons, in recent times the country has barely been able to guarantee less than half of the resources known as the “technological package”, however, the productive commitment is not reduced, rather it rises and, in such circumstances, the producer appeals to a life preserver: the informal market.


"You have to work seriously, the farmer and all those in the contract chain; for example, for the beans they did not give me input products, I used biological means, then the plague forced me to buy in the street a chemical that the State imports, who understands that? But if I don’t do that, there are no beans and no harvest”, indicated Guido Hernández Morera, member of the Cooperative of Credits and Services (CCS) Ramón Balboa.


The imbalance that surrounds the farms has other dimensions, explained Roberto González Calzada, producer of the CCS Juan Darias. "The Agricultural Insurance is not working, it is only for investments, however, a bean virus comes, which does not depend on the farmer, but you have to run that risk; they almost give no chemical products, I have a production plan above me, the plague attacks, and the Insurance does not assume anything.

"The other thing is that at the time of buying the beans the Acopio (State purchasing agency) is very demanding, as if our technology was modern and everyone knows that it is obsolete with rudimentary conditions, then the Dryer from Iguará wants a bean within certain parameters that when it passes through the machine it leaves a lot of grain, then the waste comes; last year, of 300 quintals that I sent there, I lost 45, which were perfectly good to eat, I could have sold them in other markets less demanding than the Acopio, but that goes against the plans of the cooperative ".


Carlos González Hidalgo, vice president of the CCS Ramón Balboa, provides an example of situations that should never happen because they tarnish all of Agriculture. "In the month of February, producer Orlando Alfonso, from La Aurora, delivered a yucca of the yellow variety that is soft and consumed in the community, Acopio bought it as animal food, of course at a lower price; nevertheless, they sold it later at the price of white cassava, we contested it, but nothing could be resolved ".


In a context where animal feed is very scarce due to the reduced importation of feed due to the country's financial limitations, cassava and sweet potatoes, also rice, have fallen into a voracious demand. In this turbulent river what is most convenient for pig breeders is that the yucca is hard and the sweet potato is chopped; more, you have to open your eyes to stop the excesses and seek understanding between the producers and the commercial mechanism or, otherwise, the pigs will eat more food than humans.


Producer Santiago Díaz Hernández (Neiry), member of the CCS Antonio Maceo, in Meneses - "I had an area of sweet potatoes to which I technically did everything it takes, with a contract to deliver to Acopio about 1,700 quintals, when I took the first 30 quintals in Meneses, they found it good, they bought them with a discount of 2 percent, which is the minimum; after two days I took out about 80 more quintals, but when the Quality of Collection technician appeared on the farm, he told me that the sweet potato had more than 50 percent picado, and that he could not keep buying it. And with the rest, what am I to do with it, I asked; 'Whatever you want,' he told me. I called the people who have a pig feed contract and sold it to them".