Cuba has announced that it is modifying rules for the handover of fallow land to independent farmers.

The measure goes into effect December 21. It is the latest in a series of economic reforms under President Raul Castro.

The new rules allow individual farmers to lease up to 67 hectares (165 acres), up from the current maximum of 40 hectares (98 acres). They also allow farmers to build homes on the land, which was previously prohibited.

The new law published Tuesday does not change the maximum length of the leases, which remains 10 years for individuals and 25 for cooperatives. Leases can be renewed.

The law does make it easier for farmers to keep the land in their family, giving priority to next of kin when leases expire.