Cuban recipe for salads

Cuba aims to invest almost 100 million dollars in organic and intensive gardening agriculture and other fresh foods to reduce the dependence on imports.

The alternative of the organic gardens is again gaining strength in the Cuban development plans.

With the programming of mid-term investments in urban and suburban agriculture, Cuba confirmed in April that food production continues among its strategic goals for development. Through the expansion of the system of small organic and intensive agriculture plots, the country is seeking to respond to the economic and social conflicts that affect so much agriculture and livestock activity such as foreign trade and domestic demand.

The country aims to invest more than 96 million dollars, the majority coming from international projects, to expand the areas dedicated to growing vegetables, fruits, condiments and other foodstuff. Eighty per cent will be financed by international projects and 20 per cent through a state credit.

 

This was announced by the executive secretary of the Urban Agriculture National Programme in the country, Nelson Campanioni, at the 3rd International Congress of Urban, Suburban and Family Agriculture, held in Havana with the participation of more than 40 institutions from 15 countries.

 

With that financing, Cuba will expand the capacities for irrigation, seed production and organic fertilizers, in addition to promoting the agro ecological management and use of renewable energy, Campanioni added.

 

The Agriculture Ministry aims to boost this year the programme of organic gardens begun three decades ago to expand its areas until it has one hectare per 1,000 inhabitants. The Caribbean nation is currently dedicating 8,578 hectares to organic farming, intensive gardens and installations for semi-protected crops, and hopes to complete the 10,000 hectares for this purpose in the next two years, according to the information provided by Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodríguez a month ago.

Bringing closer to the cities the production points must also benefit the supply to the agricultural markets.

 

Campanioni said that this programme has set itself the goal of harvesting in 2019 1.2 billion tons of garden produce, fruits and condiments on those 10,000 hectares.

 

By expanding that agricultural production alternative in cities and their outskirts, the programme responds to one of the biggest weaknesses of the agricultural and livestock activity in Cuba for years: the reduction of workforce in rural territories due to migration to the cities. Moreover, it brings closer these productions to the populations where consumers’ demand is concentrated.

 

According to recent reports, that programme contributed 326,000 tons of garden vegetables, fruits and fresh condiments in the first trimester. In 2016, it harvested more than a million tons.

 

To strengthen the national production of high-quality seeds, a weakness of Cuban agriculture, which obliges higher spending for imports, in 2016 the programme incorporated 48 cold stores for the conservation of seeds to the 26 existing in 2015. This year, the authorities are planning to install another 75 cold stores, in addition to specialising a group of organic gardens in their production, Campanioni said.

 

AlinaBeltrán Castillo, director of development of the Agriculture Business Group, explained that this sub-programme, in which more than 170 seed farms are participating, will allow the country to make important savings through the substitution of imports. The country is now already producing 70 per cent of the lettuce seeds, 80 per cent of the chard seeds and 40 per cent of the radish seeds.

 

Cuba spends every year more than two billion dollars to purchase abroad around 80 per cent of the foodstuff it consumes and, according to the Agriculture Ministry, almost two thirds of those provisions could be produced in Cuba. (2017)

 

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