New Rule Provides More Autonomy to Cuban Agricultural Sector

Havana - A new legal rule seeking to free productive forces in the agricultural and forestry sectors in Cuba and to contribute to increasing yields was published in the Official Gazette of Cuba on Friday.

According to statements to reporters by the director of cooperative development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ricardo Monzon, one of the new elements is the provision that unifies the economic regime of agricultural cooperatives in terms of creation and distribution of funds.

The official noted that the Decree-Law 365 'On Agricultural Cooperatives' places all stakeholders in the productive sector on equal bases in terms of access to the acquisition of means, inputs and services, in order to achieve an appropriate execution of the development program in that sector, Monzon added.

Other benefits contained in the new rule is the possibility for small farmers, associated or not to an agricultural cooperative, to hire the necessary labor force directly and the prerogative to established a direct link with individuals and legal entities.

The new policy ratifies the authorization to all producers, after the commitments made under a contract are honored, to establish commercial relations with any individuals or legal entities they consider convenient and in tune with the rest of the legislation in that regard.

According to information provided by the ministerial source, the decree-law will also favor the integration of farmers into the established productive chains.

Although the company to which the cooperative is linked is the figure responsible for monitoring the compliance with the rules that govern the productive process, it does not mean that the former can interfere arbitrarily in the performance of the productive entity, he went on to say.

A guarantee that the company cannot restrict the autonomy of cooperatives is the existence of a contractual relationship between them that establishes their duties and rights, putting them on equal bases, Monzon pointed out.

The decree-law will come into force 180 days after being published in the Official Gazette. During that period, the stakeholders concerned with the rule will receive training.

Currently, under their different structures, there are 4,828 cooperatives in Cuba with more than 447,000 members.

In Cuba, the State owns 78 percent of agricultural lands, and from that area, agricultural cooperatives administrate 67.8 percent and are responsible for more than 70 percent of vegetables production and 100 percent of sugarcane and tobacco production, Monzon noted.

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