Cuba's parliament opened its twice-yearly session on Saturday, with the communist island's faltering economy topping the agenda.


President Raul Castro was due to address the proceedings of the National Assembly, which plans to examine why one of the world's last command economies has not experienced greater growth, despite six years of reforms.

The day-long meeting of 612 legislators and other senior officials got underway at 1300 GMT.

Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez told a parliamentary committee that farming is experiencing "problems in all spheres" on the island, which will spend some $2 billion in precious hard currency on imported food.

Cuba's economy in 2013 grew by 2.7 percent, below the official target of 3.6 percent.

Havana last month lowered its growth forecast from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent, blaming "adverse" economic conditions, including fewer than expected funds sent to its citizens from their relatives overseas.

Economy Minister Adel Yzquierdo said at a recent Council of Ministers meeting that growth in Cuba was just 0.6 percent for the first half of the year.

Bad weather, the effects of the ongoing US economic blockade, and unspecified "internal weaknesses" have been cited by the government as reasons for lackluster gross domestic product growth.