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Private food markets gradually see the light of day in Cuba

Desmond Boylan / Reuters

Men unload vegetables from a truck for wholesale at a market before dawn in Havana on Feb. 14. Communist-run Cuba is gradually dismantling its monopoly on the purchase and sale of food in favor of private vendors, as part of efforts to reform the Soviet-style economy. With the country importing around 60 percent of its food and private farmers outperforming state farms on a fraction of the land, the government is systematically deregulating the sector, leasing fallow land to would-be farmers and encouraging private transportation and sales.

Desmond Boylan / Reuters

A man sits in a car loaded with carrots at a wholesale market on the outskirts of Havana on March 26.

Desmond Boylan / Reuters

A man arranges vegetables for sale on a tricycle in the village of Sagua La Grande in central Cuba, around 149 miles east of Havana on March 10.

Desmond Boylan / Reuters

A woman holds money to pay a farmer in the village of Sagua La Grande in central Cuba, around 149 miles east of Havana on March 2.

By Marc Frank, Reuters

Cubans are building private food distribution networks from the farm through to retail outlets as communist authorities gradually dismantle the state's monopoly on the purchase and sale of agricultural products.

The country's first wholesale produce market is up and running on the outskirts of Havana and across the island farmers report they are selling more of their goods directly to customers, ranging from hotels to individual vendors.

Those involved say the change is speeding the flow of food to market, helping end longstanding inefficiencies that often left crops to rot in fields and putting more money in the pockets of producers. Continue reading.

Enrique De La Osa / Reuters

Tomatoes are displayed for sale at a private wholesale market in Havana on March 26.

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