Onfarm food selfprovisioning

Farms were encouraged to renounce their rights to state rations when they became more self-sufficient. This showed that they were not a burden on the state, although some who had done this still received certain items such as sugar, oil and soap. The nature and type of self-provisioning varied by farm type. On some CPA cooperatives, self-provisioning took up a relatively small percentage of land area - only 8.3 per cent on one cooperative. In material terms, these CPA farmers were relatively poor. Individuals had incomes of less than one dollar a day, including profits. Yet living costs were low: housing was provided (though basic and often cramped), schooling was free, basic foodstuffs were supplied at a very low price, and medical care was free (although medicines were in short supply). Occasionally work clothes and boots were provided. Although protein consumption was generally low due to the limitations in livestock production and the small quantities of meat available through the ration system, each farmer member had his or her own family home garden where goats could be reared. The main food expenditures were on items unobtainable through the cooperative or ration system, such as cooking oil, and this competed with necessary household expenditure on clothing, use of public transport, and children's needs. Unless the cooperative had made an arrangement with the state to produce and sell export crops that would bring in a dollar income, food items that could only be purchased in dollars were inaccessible. There was little evidence of on-farm processing or value adding.

In the private CCS sector, much land was being given over to self-provisioning, and this brought with it the promotion of 'perennial production strategies' such as, for example, planting of early and late varieties of mango and cassava to extend seasonal availability. CCS farmers attempted to be individually self-sufficient, producing up to 90 per cent of their food needs. However, it was generally only the older farmers who actually achieved this; the younger, less experienced members had to resort to purchasing more food. CCS members could access dollar food stores, and estimated that the ration supplied approximately 8 per cent of their food needs, and dollar outlets 2 per cent.5

In the early days of the UBPCs, almost all produce was sent off-farm, with only the member's cafeteria being self-provisioned. Towards the end of the decade, this had changed, and produce was being sold to member families at cost price - largely grains, roots and tubers, and horticultural items. Some UBPCs provided more food, depending on their production performance. As an example, one UBPC in Holguin Province supplied its members with milk on a daily basis, four eggs per week, meat and other foodstuffs. In another, members were purchasing beans for $0.065/kg from the farm, compared with the price at the local farmers' market of $0.44-0.66/kg. Generally, UBPC workers had access to peso goods shops via their associated Agricultural Enterprise. These shops carried a wider range of products, and of higher quality, compared to those found in dollar shops, and at a subsidized price. Some UBPC members also produced their own extra foods, working a small plot of land or nave. This land was rented to the members by the cooperative, payment being made inkind as a share of the harvest. UBPCs produced between 65 and 90 per cent of their food needs on-farm, and members felt that the ration supplied another 15-25 per cent, while 10 per cent came from workers' self-provisioning plots.

Overall, and compared to the levels of insecurity over food availability amongst the population in general, farmers were wholly positive about the increases in domestic production that they had experienced since 1995, and by the end of the decade they felt that there was more food available. That the farming sector felt more food secure than the general population could be attributed to their direct control of their own food supplies, particularly through their improved self-provisioning status.

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