Saturday, September 3, 2011

Translation: Guidelines debate 18, Agriculture

Here is Part 18 of my translation of the booklet Information on the results of the Debate on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution, an explanatory document published together with the final version of the Guidelines adopted by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress in April.

I've now translated some two thirds of this document, which is arguably one of the most important in the history of the Cuban Revolution because of the unprecedented popular debate that resulted in substantial modifications to many of the guidelines and the incorporation of new guidelines. What we see in these modifications is the depth, scope and direction of this consultative and consensus-building process.     

The entire project of renewing Cuba's socialist course depends on the transformation of agriculture, and the changes to the Cuban socialist-oriented economic model under Raul Castro's presidency have begun here. The importance of agriculture is reflected in the fact that the English translation of this chapter of the Guidelines explanatory document runs to almost three and a half thousand words.

The outstanding success of Cuban agriculture during the Special Period has been the concerted effort to develop and generalise a new agricultural paradigm, known as low-input sustainable agriculture, that combines traditional farming methods with scientific knowledge, high-tech green innovations and the social cohesion and solidarity embodied in Cuba's socialist revolution. A world leader in sustainable agriculture, Cuba is a laboratory for the large-scale application of sustainable practices, such as the proliferation of urban organic farms with state support, that those of us in developed capitalist societies can only dream about this side of the socialist revolution.

Despite these remarkable achievements, Cuban agriculture in general has fallen into a parlous state of neglect and mismanagement during the post-Soviet Special Period, symbolised by the spread of marabu, a tropical thorn scrub that has taken over vast areas of prime agricultural land. There has been an exodus from rural areas to the cities. Reforms undertaken in the early 1990s to transform huge state farms into cooperatively managed entities did not go far enough, leaving cooperatives under the tutelage of a centralised administrative apparatus that is both inefficient and inept.  

Bold reforms in this sector, such as the leasing of unproductive state farmland to anyone willing to farm it and the devolution of planning from the Ministry of Agriculture in Havana towards the municipalities, are aimed at freeing agriculture from bureaucratic tutelage, making farming an attractive option in the context of the economy-wide rationalisation of state-sector employment and using market mechanisms judiciously to stimulate production and productivity without privatising the farmland that belongs to Cuba's working people as a whole.

The challenge is to turn Cuba from a country that imports billions of dollars worth of food annually into a socialist-oriented society with a vibrant and dynamic agricultural sector, avoiding the concentration of land ownership side by side with rural poverty and ecological ruin that would result from allowing market forces too much of a free reign. Guideline 187 affirms that the goal is "a sustainable agriculture in harmony with the environment". 

The reforms so far are starting to take effect but they have yet to bear fruit. 

The format is as follows: number and text of the draft guideline, followed by the text and number of the corresponding guideline approved by the Communist Party Congress, followed by the drafting commission's explanation for the change. You'll find it easiest to read on my blog where the amended guidelines are in bold font.

Ecological mural, Pinar del Rio, Cuba  
Agro-industrial policy

Guidelines


166. Achieve an agricultural sector that makes a positive contribution to the country’s balance of payments, so that the country is no longer a net food importer, and lessen the high dependence on financing that today comes from the incomes of other sectors. (Maintained as guideline 177)

167. Adopt a new management model in line with the greater reliance on non-state productive forms, which must be based on a more effective utilisation of monetary-trade relations, delimiting state and enterprise functions with the aim of promoting greater autonomy for producers, increasing efficiency and making possible a gradual decentralisation towards local government. (Maintained as guideline 178)

168. Modify the current legislation in correspondence with the transformations in the productive base in order to facilitate the efficient and competitive functioning of the sector, and decentralise the system of economic and financial management. Apply measures to ensure auditing and the reliability of information.

Modify the current legislation in correspondence with the transformations in the productive base in order to facilitate the efficient and competitive functioning of the sector, and decentralise the system of economic and financial management. Perfect the organisational structures for the application of measures to ensure auditing and the reliability of information. (179)

Includes the reference to perfecting the structures responsible for auditing and information. In response to 543 opinions nationwide.

169. Make the various forms of cooperatives independent of the mediation of state enterprises and gradually develop integral agricultural services cooperatives at the local level.

Achieve the managerial autonomy of the various forms of cooperatives and gradually develop agricultural services cooperatives at the local level. (180)

Changes the wording to affirm the objective of achieving managerial autonomy for cooperatives.

170. Adjust agricultural production in line with demand and the transformation of commercialisation, boosting quality and ensuring the fulfilment of contracts so that the parties meet their obligations. Limit the centralised distribution of product lines to those that affect the national balance of payments, allowing competitive mechanisms to play a more active role in the commercialisation of other products. (Maintained as guideline 181)

171. Restructure the current system for the sale of agricultural inputs and equipment in accordance with the new scenario in food production activity and the financial mechanisms to be established, making these resources directly available to the productive forms through the network of stores that will be set up in the municipalities. 


Restructure the current system for the sale of agricultural inputs and equipment, considering the new food production scenario and the financial mechanisms to be established, assuring an appropriate correspondence between quality and prices of the products on sale. Facilitate the direct access of productive entities to these resources through the network of stores that will be set up in the municipalities. (182)

Includes the need to ensure correspondence between the quality and prices of products on sale, as well as the possibility of the producers being able to purchase these inputs and equipment directly. Given 2,620 opinions nationwide and the Congress analysis.

172. Modify the system of distribution and commercialisation of agricultural products through more flexible mechanisms that contribute to reducing losses in the productive chain. Increase producer earnings by simplifying the links between primary production and the final consumer to improve the quality of the products on sale.

Transform the system of distribution and commercialisation of agricultural products through more flexible mechanisms that contribute to reducing losses by simplifying the links between primary production and the final consumer, including the possibility that the producer can access the market by their own means. Expand the scope of profitable activity to improve the quality of the products on sale. (183)

Includes the producer having the possibility of bringing products to the market on their own initiative and expanding the scope of profitable activity to improve product quality. Given 1,295 opinions in the 15 provinces and the Congress analysis.

173. Prioritise, in the short term, the substitution of imports of food that can be produced efficiently in Cuba. The necessary resources must be concentrated where they can be used most effectively with the aim of boosting yields and productive efficiency while promoting the application of scientific and technical advances. (Maintained as guideline 184)

174. Organise agricultural production around activities that earn export incomes or that substitute imports, with a systematic approach to the productive chain that considers not only primary production but all the links in the agro-industrial complex. These productive chains should be developed using the sector’s internal resources, on the basis of net incomes via exports or of savings via import substitution. In the organisation of other productive activities a regional and local approach must predominate, directed towards local self-sufficiency with an emphasis on the execution of the program to develop agricultural “green belts” on the urban fringes. This program should be extended to the whole country. (Maintained as guideline 185)

175. Adequately link the agricultural production poles to the food processing industry, with the aim of guaranteeing the supply of food to the larger cities as well as for exports and the internal convertible currency market. (Maintained as guideline 186)

176. Continue reducing the amount of unproductive agricultural land and increase yields through crop diversification, crop rotation and polyculture. Develop a sustainable agriculture in harmony with the environment that promotes the efficient use of plant and animal genetic resources including seeds and varieties, gene technologies and the use of organic fertilisers, bioferilisers and biopesticides.

Continue reducing the amount of unproductive agricultural land and increase yields through crop diversification, crop rotation and polyculture. Develop a sustainable agriculture in harmony with the environment that promotes the efficient use of plant and animal genetic resources including seeds and varieties, gene technologies and phytosanitary measures, and that promotes the production and use of organic fertilisers, bioferilisers and biopesticides. (187)

Adds phytosanitary measures as one of the appropriate ways to make use of plant genetic resources, and boosting the production of organic fertilisers, bioferilisers and biopesticides. In response to 61 opinions in 13 provinces and the Isle of Youth, and the Congress analysis.

New guideline:

Develop an integral policy that contributes to favouring the production, conservation and commercialisation of seeds and their beneficial use. (188)

Added on the basis of the Congress analysis.

177. Ensure that the granting of land in usufruct [i.e. the leasing of state-owned farmland rent-free to producers on a medium or long term basis — translator’s note] favours productive results that are similar to those of the cooperative and peasant sector today, where the producers are not salaried employees and their incomes depend on their earnings. Prices for most products will be set by supply and demand and as a rule there will be no subsidies.

Ensure that the granting of land in usufruct favours productive results similar to those of the cooperative and peasant sector today, where the producers are not salaried employees and their incomes depend on their earnings. Prices for most products will be set by supply and demand and as a rule there will be no subsidies. Implement the modifications to Decree Law No. 259 [regarding the granting of land in usufruct] to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the use of lands granted in usufruct. (189)

Includes the modification of Decree Law No. 259 to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the use of lands granted in usufruct, and deletes that referring to the setting of prices, which is taken up in the current guideline 190. Given 1,188 opinions in the 15 provinces.

New guideline:

Maintain the regulatory role of the state in the setting of farm gate prices of agricultural products that substitute imports, or that generate export revenues, to create an incentive for primary producers. Price fluctuations on the international market will be taken into account. (190)

Includes in the Guidelines the need to maintain the regulatory role of the state so that prices are an incentive for primary producers, as well as taking into account price fluctuations of these products on the international market. In response to 525 opinions nationwide and the Congress analysis.

178. Give special attention to activities that add value to agricultural products, improve their quality and presentation, reduce the need for transportation and lower costs for distribution and storage. Link up small processing entities with large-scale industry with the aim of increasing the availability of food products in the national market, including via import substitution and the generation of export revenues. (Maintained as guideline 191)

New guideline:

Continue developing the breeding program for cattle, buffalo, pigs, fowl and small livestock [e.g. sheep, goats, rabbits]. Promote the genetic improvement of herds in order to boost production of animal protein and diversify the production of animal feed. Ensure the availability of veterinary services, boost national production of veterinary medicines and increase the use of artificial insemination. (192)

Includes the breeding program in the Guidelines, considering the genetic improvement of herds, veterinary services and the production of medicines, as well as increasing the use of artificial insemination in order to boost the production of animal protein and substitute imports. Given 928 opinions nationwide and the Congress analysis.

New guideline:
 
Ensure fulfilment of the programs for the production of rice, beans, corn, soy and other grains and pulses to guarantee increased production, in order to contribute to a gradual reduction in imports of these products. (193)

Considers the proposal to add that referring to the rice program and to include the production of beans, corn, soy and other grains and pulses that underpin the policy of import substitution. In response to 104 opinions in 7 provinces.


New guideline:

Boost the development of coffee growing, cacao, apicultural and other activities that contribute to the gradual recovery of traditional sources of agricultural export revenues. In tobacco production, take maximum advantage of the international market. (194)

Incorporates various product lines that are traditional agricultural exports and others that also contribute to import substitution, such as coffee and cacao. Given 731 opinions in 13 provinces.

179. Recover the national production of citrus fruit and ensure the efficient commercialisation of citrus products in international markets.

Revitalise the citrus sector, boosting the production of other fruits and ensuring the efficient commercialisation of citrus products in the national and international markets. (195)

Adds the national market as one of the destinations for the commercialisation of citrus products and those of other fruits. In response to 599 opinions throughout the country.

180. Develop an integral program for the development of forestry plantations that prioritises the protection of watersheds, in particular the catchments of reservoirs, tree cover along watercourses, mountains and coasts.

Develop an integral program for the maintenance, conservation and development of forestry plantations that prioritises the protection of watersheds, in particular the catchments of reservoirs, tree cover along watercourses, mountains and coasts. (196)

Includes maintenance and conservation activities, based on a proposal made during the Congress.

181. Give special attention to the redeployment of the agricultural workforce, adopting measures to encourage permanency and the incorporation of new workers.


Develop an integral policy that contributes to the gradual re-population of the countryside, adopting measures to encourage the permanency and stability of the agricultural workforce and to assist families moving to rural areas. (197) 

Considers the development of an integral policy for the re-population of rural Cuba, with measures to encourage participation in the agricultural workforce and the stability of this sector. Given 2,364 opinions across the country.

Prioritise the adoption of measures to encourage the incorporation of youth into the agricultural sector and their permanency, in particular through the granting of state farmland in usufruct as a means of employment. (198)

Adds the priority of measures aimed at encouraging the incorporation of youth into the sector and land grants in usufruct. In response to 135 opinions in 14 provinces and the Isle of Youth.

182. Organise the agricultural workforce into collectives, establishing a correct relationship of people to the land they work and to the final results of their efforts. This will ensure an increase in the productivity of agricultural workers, higher incomes and a better quality of life.

Organise the agricultural workforce into collectives to establish a correct relationship of people to the land they work and to the final results of their efforts, which will ensure an increase in the productivity of agricultural workers. (199)

Reformulated for better comprehension.

183. Develop an integral qualifications system in line with the structural changes, aimed at training and re-qualification in the areas of agronomy, veterinary science, industrial technology, economics, administration and management, incorporating aspects related to the management of cooperatives and the environment.

Develop an integral qualifications system in line with the structural changes, aimed at the training and re-qualification of managers and workers in the areas of agronomy, veterinary science, industrial technology, economics, administration and management, incorporating aspects related to the management of cooperatives and the environment. (200)

Specifies that the qualifications system will take into account both managers and workers. Given 53 opinions in 13 provinces. 

184. Concentrate investments among the most efficient producers, taking into account the characteristics of localities and links with industry. Prioritise irrigation, the repair of agricultural machinery and industrial equipment indispensable for the assimilation of increased production and the achievement of greater efficiency.

Concentrate investments among the most efficient producers, taking into account the characteristics of localities and links with industry. Prioritise irrigation; the repair of agricultural machinery; mechanised transportation; and new technologies and industrial equipment indispensable for the assimilation of increased production and the achievement of greater efficiency. (201) 

Includes mechanised transportation [animal transport has been common during Cuba’s post-Soviet “Special Period” – translator’s note] and new technologies among the priority investments. In response to the Congress debate.

185. Reorganise irrigation activities and agricultural machinery services to achieve a rational use of water, hydraulic infrastructure and the available agricultural equipment, combining the use of animal traction with advanced technologies. 

Reorganise irrigation and drainage activities and agricultural machinery services to achieve a rational use of water, hydraulic infrastructure and the available agricultural equipment, combining the use of animal traction with advanced technologies. (202)

Adds drainage to the activities to be reorganised to achieve a rational use of water, based on the Congress debate.

186. Guarantee specialised banking services for the agro-industrial sector to support producers, facilitating the granting of loans and the auditing of their execution.

Guarantee specialised banking services for the agro-industrial sector to support producers, facilitating the granting of loans and the auditing of their execution. Strengthen and broaden the scope of agricultural insurance, making it easier to acquire and process. (203)

Adds the need to strengthen and broaden the scope of agricultural insurance. Given 332 opinions across the country.

187. Better integrate scientific and technological development, ensuring its efficient integration with the productive base and improving scientific and technical services for producers. (Incorporated into guideline 136)

Incorporated because it deals with the same content.

188. Update and carry out programs aimed at the preservation and rehabilitation of natural resources that are utilised: soils, water, forests, animals and plants, training producers in environmental management and applying, with maximum rigour, the established regulations and penalties for their violation. (Maintained as guideline 204)

189. Develop the program of municipal food self-sufficiency based on urban agriculture and urban fringe “green belts”. (Maintained as guideline 205)

190. Carry out the urban fringe “green belts” program by making efficient use of the farmlands that surround cities and towns, based on minimal use of fossil fuels and imported inputs, local resources and the widespread use of animal traction. (Maintained as guideline 206)

191. Carry out the gradual transformation of the food agro-industry, including its local development, with the aim of achieving a greater utilisation of raw materials and the diversification of production. (Maintained as guideline 207)

192. Apply systems of food quality management in correspondence with the established norms and the demands of buyers.

Apply systems of food quality management in correspondence with the established norms and the demands of buyers to ensure, among other objectives, food that is safe for consumption. (208)

193. The sugar agro-industry will have as its primary objective a sustained increase in cane production, in which the relationship between sugar mills and cane producers must be perfected as the industry develops. At the same time production must be diversified taking into account international market conditions, achieving a correct utilisation of the mills and sugar derivatives plants. 

The sugar agro-industry will have as its primary objective a sustained increase in cane production, prioritising the reorganisation of the cane-growing areas so that they are closer to the sugar mills. As the industry develops, the relationship between sugar mills and cane producers must be perfected in order to make use of the cane growing tradition and its experience. (209) 

Adds the priority given to reorganising the cane growing areas, given its importance to cane production. That referring to diversification is incorporated into the current guideline 212. In response to 895 opinions in 14 provinces.

New guideline:

The fluctuations of prices on international markets must be taken into account in setting the purchase price of sugar from cane growers, which must also create an incentive for cane production in relation to other crops in order to ensure increased cane production and higher incomes for workers in this sector. (210)

Isolates the content of the original guideline 194 referring to the setting of purchase prices for sugar cane, and adds the need for such prices to incentivise cane growing in relation to other crops. In response to 69 opinions in 13 provinces.

194. Gradually increase the production of sugar cane and its derivatives to the point where convertible currency incomes allow for the financing of all the sector’s operational costs, plus the value of the investments carried out, so that it earns a net income for the country. In the setting of purchase prices for cane and sugar the fluctuations of international market prices must be taken into account.


Gradually increase the production of sugar cane and its derivatives, ensuring the proper organisation and planning of the sugar harvest, the repair of industrial equipment and the efficient use of technology to achieve convertible currency incomes that would allow for the financing of all the sector’s operational costs, plus the value of the investments carried out and the cost of repairs, so that it earns a net income for the country. (211) 

Adds the proper organisation and planning of the harvest and industrial repairs to for increased sugar production. That related to the price of cane is deleted from this guideline and transferred to the new guideline 210. In response to 71 opinions in 14 provinces and the Congress analysis. 

195. Progress in the construction and recuperation of sugar industry derivatives and by-products plants, prioritising those that produce alcohol, animal feed, bioproducts and others.

Diversify sugar industry production, taking into account demand on the international and internal markets. Progress in the construction, recuperation and correct exploitation of derivatives and by-products plants, prioritising those that produce alcohol, animal feed, bioproducts and others. (212)

Adds part of the original guideline 193 to integrate that related to the diversification of sugar industry production into a single guideline. In response to 57 opinions in 11 provinces.

196. Achieve a rational use of off-shore fishing resources and increase levels of production and efficiency in this sector, principally in aquaculture, increasing the use of technologies, the appropriate use of genetics and of fish-raising practices. Achieve net foreign trade incomes to finance the importation of inputs and equipment that cannot be produced in Cuba.

Increase levels of production and efficiency in the off-shore fishing industry, complying with fishing regulations, to achieve a rational exploitation of these resources and the protection of the coastal and marine environment. Aquaculture will be developed with a greater use of technology and continual genetic improvement; this sector must achieve foreign trade incomes to finance the importation of inputs and equipment that cannot be produced in Cuba. (213)

Modified to separate aquaculture activity from off-shore fishing and to add compliance with fishing regulations to achieve a rational exploitation of these resources. In response to 309 opinions in 15 provinces and that of one National Assembly of Peoples Power deputy. 

New guideline:

The fishing industry must increase the supply of quality fishing products to the tourism industry and to the rest of the internal convertible currency market on the basis of national production. (214)

Includes the need to increase the supply of quality Cuban fishing products to tourism and the internal convertible currency market. In response to 309 opinions in 15 provinces.

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