Havana – The Cuban government slashed the prices of a number of farm implements to stimulate food production, particularly on land distributed to individuals and cooperatives since 2008 for the purpose of reviving the nation's agriculture.
A new list of retail prices for such items as shovels, machetes, hoes and milk buckets was posted Friday on a government Web site.
With the new measure that went into effect this week, the price farmers will pay for some implements will be almost two-thirds less.
Official media said Friday that the decision to cut prices was made at a recent Cabinet meeting.
The measure "ratifies the will of the Cuban government to perfect the decisions taken and to aid as much as possible one of the basic elements in the battle to increase food production: the farm workers' sector," Communist Party daily Granma said.
The new low prices chiefly seek to encourage Cubans who have received parcels of land since the Raul Castro government in 2008 approved the awarding of idle terrain to individuals and cooperatives.
According to official figures, more than 146,000 Cubans have received land, and of those, close to 71,000 are novice farmers.
However, more than 9,000 people have had the right to use the parcels assigned them canceled for not making sufficient use of them.
Cuba has some 6.6 million hectares (16 million acres) of arable land and the expanse lying idle was estimated in 2008 at more than 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres).
Figures from the Agriculture Ministry indicate that as of last December more than 67 percent of the idle land had been assigned to producers.
The reorganization of the farming sector is part of the government's program to "modernize" Cuba's socialist economic model.
Increasing domestic food production is considered a matter of "national security" in Cuba because the country spends more than $1.5 billion per year to import 80 percent of the food it consumes.