armers-market-Havana-300x225Responding to the needs of mushrooming private gastronomy businesses, the government allowed the creation of wholesale food markets in Havana and surrounding provinces, “in an experimental manner.” The pilot project will allow to “study other ways on a regional level,” and then expand them to the rest of the country, Communist Party daily Granma said.Decree 318, published in the Gaceta Oficial Nov. 6, allows farmers to sell their production in excess of state quotas directly to final consumers in the provinces of La Habana, Artemisa and Mayabeque. It also directs the provinces to authorize the creation of farmers’ markets, other food retail outlets, and street vendor routes for agricultural products to be sold in non-convertible Cuban Pesos (CUP). Most significant for the emerging group of private business , owners, though, is the creation of wholesale markets, and that the new regulation authorizes private food wholesalers (“vendedor mayorista de productos agropecuarios“), in addition to state farms, farm co-ops and private farmers, to sell agricultural products. havana-live-fresch-fruite1This de facto recognition of private intermediaries further chips away at the state food distribution monopoly known as Acopio, and the new markets could become the prototype of a wholesale infrastructure to supply the thousands of new restaurants and other private food service providers that have sprung up on the island over the past few years.The first wholesale market will be “El Trigal” in the Havana suburb of Boyeros, Granma said. The market will begin to operate before the end of the year, with nightly opening hours from 6 p.m. through sunrise.
It will be up to provincial governments — after consultation with city governments — to decide where to allow the new food markets. The new outlets are authorized to sell fresh and processed food and other farm products, except for beef, milk and other dairy products, honey, coffee, cacao and tobacco products. All products will be sold in non-convertible Cuban pesos (CUP) at unregulated prices, except for rice, beans, potatoes, garlic, onion and tomatoes, which will be sold at fixed prices.
There are no limitations as to amounts sold and kind of buyers.
The wholesale markets will be operated by non-agricultural service cooperatives.
Self-employed Cubans will also be allowed to act as retailers on farmers’ markets and as street vendors. They may rent market stalls in CUP for a price per square meter from the market operators. Permanent retail food stores may only be operated by agricultural producers.