Food distribution won't include private intermediaries
Reform of Cuba's food distribution system will remain minimal, if
discussions of a 311-point economic reform package by the five
commissions of the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana are an indicator.
Food distribution state monopoly Acopio has long been a major bottleneck
that frustrates farmers and consumers alike. Despite high government
priority, a two-year effort to increase food production on the island
has not produced major rises in yields. Two years ago, the government
ordered to decentralize Acopio; however, critical reports in official
media indicate that bottlenecks persist.
The 311-point guidelines and discussions at the congress are apparently
limited to only minor private competition to the state monopoly. One
delegate in the Commission 1 discussion on Sunday, according to
Communist Party daily Granma, voiced concerns about the possibility of
allowing private intermediaries to buy from cooperatives and sell to
consumers. Citing an effort to keep consumer prices low, Marino Murillo
— Castro's point man of economic reform — responded that the state will
allow only farmers who exceed their state quota to sell their surplus
directly to consumers, without intermediaries.
Two delegates in Commission 4 suggested including wording to eliminate
red tape in the state food distribution system, "which today is in the
way of necessary resources making it to producers," Granma reported.
In other agriculture news, several delegates suggested including
soybeans and other grains in the list of food crops whose cultivation is
prioritized. The government currently promotes and heavily subsidizes
cultivation of rice, beans and corn.
The plenary will vote on the entire reform package Tuesday.