HAVANA.- The Cuban government granted over 2 million hectare of idle land in usufruct in the last ten years, after the passing of Decree-Law 259, in an effort to boost food production.

According to Eddy Soca Baldaquín, director of Soils and Land Control of the çMinistry of Agriculture (Minag), from 2008 to date, 289,474 applications have been made, of which 244,851 have been approved (241,604 to individuals and 3,247 to legal entities).

He stressed that this process is still underway, with still another half a million available for those who wish to lease it.

Leasing these lands has led to an annual increase of 5.3 percent in the production of food and vegetables, 6 percent in maize, fruit trees and wet-shell rice, 8 percent in beans and 2.9 percent in cow's milk, he said.

In a decade, the cattle heads have increased in 833,000 and beef production in 25,000 tons, respectively, Soca Baldaquin said.

Orlando Diaz Rodriguez, legal director of Minag, explained at a press conference that Decree Law 259 was one of the most revolutionary measures adopted by the country's leadership for the development of agricultural and forestry production.

The official said that in order to ensure continuity and sustainability in the exploitation of the land, stimulate the incorporation, permanence and stability of the sector's workforce and the definitive family settlement, four years later Decree Law 300 and its Regulations, effective to date, came into force.

The Extraordinary Official Gazette number 39, published this Tuesday, includes the Decree Law 358/18 of the Minag, which establishes modifications for the delivery of idle state lands in usufruct, transformations that will grant more guarantees to natural and legal persons.

These new provisions make it possible to grant idle areas of commercial livestock production for breeding and fattening purposes, as well as for private individuals who receive or have already received land to be linked to agricultural, sugar or forestry enterprises.

In order to achieve stability in the workplace, the new regulations, which will come into force within 60 days, extend the term of the contract for natural persons from 10 to 20 years, extendable successively for the same çterm, and for legal persons for an indefinite period, provided that the agreed obligations are fulfilled.

The maximum area to be given to natural persons who request land for the first time for agricultural and forestry production grows from 13.42 to 26.84 ha, and the latter figure is set as the minimum limit in the case of applications for major livestock and crops in productive poles, and may be increased to 67.10 ha.


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