Cuban farmers and hotels have begun to accommodate themselves to the new commercial framework that allows them to sell and buy agricultural products directly with each other, a measure included in the recent adjustments to “update” the island’s socialist economic model, government-run media reported.
As of Dec. 23, a total of 71 contracts had been signed between agricultural producers and hotels located in the country’s most important tourist spots, including the Varadero seaside resort, Havana and the eastern provinces of Camaguey and Granma, according to an article published Sunday in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
Although the report acknowledges that this commercial alternative is still in an early phase, it says that the liberalized regulations have been received well and it cites the opinions of some of the participants in the deals that have been struck.
Among them is Velio A. Barrera, a marketing expert with the Tourism Ministry, who said that the measure creates an “additional option” and that the advantages include “greater dynamism, variety and quality” in the supply of products for the tourist industry and the reduction in transportation costs.
The small farmers are selling fruits and vegetables, including guavas, pineapples, lettuce, tomatoes and cabbage.
Meanwhile, farmer Roberto Hernandez Rodriguez, the president of an agricultural cooperative, said that in December he experienced “great anxiety” about the option of selling produce directly to hotels.
But he added that the farmers “are happy, there is enthusiasm, but the matter of product pricing has to be worked out, which cannot be an obstacle” to sales.
The possibility for farmers to sell their products directly to the tourist sector, a move authorized at the end of last year, opens up a chink in the state monopoly on agricultural and livestock marketing.