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August 27, 2010

Cuba's Free Market Reforms Start with Veggies
Fidel Castro's Cuban government just announced two major free market reforms. One involved allowing foreign companies to lease land for up to 99 years, leading some to speculate a golf-course boom awaits.

But more significantly for Cubans themselves, the second major reform allows, for the first time, individuals to grow and legally sell their own fruits and vegetables. According to ABC News, the decree "authorizes them to produce their own agricultural goods — from melons to milk, on a small scale — and sell them from home or using special kiosks on their property."

While black market roadside sales have gone on for years, the decree should allow a thousand produce stands -- in cities as well as on roadsides -- to bloom. Even better, it will allow the government to take their fair share -- all income from these micro-growers will be taxed.

As one expert observed, it may actually go quite a ways towards improving Cuban agriculture, which -- though surprisingly sustainable -- is plagued by inefficiencies.

Anyway, it's quite interesting that Cuba's free market reforms are starting with food.

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