HAVANA — Cuban authorities have ordered cuts of up to 60 percent in prices for agricultural equipment and other farm items to stimulate newly authorized private farmers who are cultivating state land under an economic overhaul.

Officials said Thursday that the reductions took effect Aug. 1 and address complaints from farmers that their costs were too high. The announcement came during the nightly round-table show “Mesa Redonda.”

Interior Commerce Ministry official Sara del Pilar Vidal said the government decided to lower prices due to the feedback from farmers and after studies showed the merchandise was not selling at the earlier “elevated” prices.

The 93 items covered include things like hoes, machetes, milk canisters, hoses and rakes, she said.

Agricultural Ministry official Alfredo Rudio mentioned 60 other kinds of equipment such as plows and added that what he called an “explosion” in land handed over to private farmers made the reductions necessary.

President Raul Castro began a land reform process in 2008 that turns over fallow fields to private cultivators. The government wants to boost farm production and reduce Cuba’s reliance on costly food imports.

The 2008 law provides for parcels of 32 to 98 acres (13 to 40 hectares) to be allotted for 10 years to individuals and up to 25 years for cooperatives. Both kinds of contracts are renewable.

National Land Control Center director Pedro Olivera said 171,000 people have requested farm land in the last three years and 143,000 were approved. More than 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) were turned over, he said.



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