Cuba pushes for production of idle land

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba says it will speed up plans to give private farmers and cooperatives idle plots of government land as it rushes to produce food after a pair of hurricanes ravaged island crops.

The Agriculture Ministry said Monday in a statement that it will begin accepting applications for the government land beginning Wednesday. The measure was announced in July, but the start date was not given at the time.

The government was already trying to revive flagging food production when Hurricanes Ike and Gustav struck this month.

Since taking over from his brother Fidel, Raul Castro has opened more unused state land to private farmers, legalized cell phones for ordinary citizens and allowed some workers to seek legal title to their homes.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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