Communist-led Cuba has introduced a series of reforms under President Raul Castro but the pace of change has slowed in the past year, raising questions about its commitment to reform. Cuban farmers may now hire laborers directly rather than through cooperatives, the government said on Friday, marking a modest advance to loosen controls in its Soviet-style economy. The new resolution aims to fundamentally stimulate the hiring of workers related to agricultural labor in an agile, orderly and legal way. Already In other sectors of the economy like restaurants Cuba has allowed small business holders to directly hire staff. The analysts believe that although the new regulations are positive in streamlining labor conditions they are not enough. “This is a step in the right direction but these remain isolated measures allowing Cuba to advance at a snail’s pace,” said ex-Cuban central bank official. “The demand for food has risen together with the arrival of tourists to the island, so it is crucial to do away with the hurdles to production,” he said, citing as examples the dual currency and restrictions to trade.
Cuba imports more than two-thirds of its food, despite having rich farmland and demand is rising as tourism increases. Market reforms have aimed to boost production. One measure has been to hand out land to new farmers. But Cuba has backtracked on some reforms in the past year, for example restoring some price controls in the face of rising food costs. Analysts say this may ease the short-term pain for Cuban consumers but it is counterproductive in the longer term.
Like many of its Caribbean neighbors, Cuba meets its food consumption needs through imports therefore any policy to facilitate enhancement domestic food production becomes very crucial. In this regard this reform signals the urgency to tackle major problems in agriculture but the resolution alone will do little to boost production and efficiency unless accompanied by additional reforms.