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A monthly news brief highlighting news and events related to
agriculture, food and the environment in Cuba.

November News Summary

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This month’s news summary once again highlights the many new measures the Cuban government has been passing in order to achieve the Social and Economic Plan approved in July. Addressing food and agriculture issues is central to this plan. In November, new policies related to agricultural commercialization and extension were passed. Please read details about these policies and other news below, including: Cuba to have its first energy efficient building with funding from the EU, Cuba is to locally manufacture a tractor stemming challenges of importing due to the blockade, and the month of November brought the highest number of accumulated mm of rainfall since 1993, bringing very much needed water to the island.
Please save the date for the 3rd session of our virtual conference series Resistance and Resilience: Responses to the Climate Crisis from Cuba and Puerto Rico. This 3rd session will take place December 17th from 3-5pm EST and will discuss agriculture and food systems.
Cuba: aprueban normativa sobre la inocuidad de los alimentos
“Cuba: Approves Food Safety Regulations”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: OnCuba, October 30, 2020 
A new decree has been passed by the Cuban State Council, establishing food safety regulations on the Island, the first of its kind in the history of Cuba. The new regulations seek to protect the rights and health of consumers. The decree also addresses issues around fraud and quality linked to the production and marketing of food. Food producers that don’t meet food safety standards or are fraudulent, can now be fined and/or have their products or raw materials confiscated. According to a recent interview with the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba, Director of the National Standardization Office, Nancy Fernández explained that the new decree would come into effect in 180 days and provide health protection throughout the food chain, with an educational, preventive, and comprehensive approach. 
Claves de la nueva política de comercialización de productos agrícolas y otras novedades del campo
“Key Components of the New Commercialization Policies for Agricultural Products and Other Innovations in the Field”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Randy Alonso Falcón, Oscar Figueredo Reinaldo, Yunier Javier Sifonte Díaz, Dinella García Acosta, Cubadebate, November 5, 2020 
The Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil Fernández, and the Minister of Agriculture, Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero, recently appeared on the nightly news Mesa Redonda to report on new commercialization policies for agricultural products. The new Economic-Social Strategy includes twenty four measures which include: easier hiring process for the agricultural workforce; the approval of tax incentives to stimulate production and marketing of food; the creation of wholesale markets for inputs; and the recovery of bovine livestock. 
La mesa está servida…Al menos para el debate
“The Table is Served… At Least for the Debate” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Ariel Decal Diaz, El Toque, November 5, 2020 
Journalist Ariel Decal Diaz, presents the question of how the populace can discuss the transformation of the Cuban food system at the kitchen table. He addresses the issue of bringing a varied and nutritious diet to the Cuban people, while also addressing topics such as production, marketing, and distribution. He encourages public deliberation around the creation of new public policies, in which the government is organizing state institutions and civil society organizations around the new Food Sovereignty Law. Proposals currently on the table include: the formation of autonomous cooperatives; the decentralization of state regulations at the municipal and local level; reduction of the mandatory delivery of products to Acopio (less than 50%); the elimination of obstacles to wholesale transportation and distribution; the approval of medium and small companies in the agri-food chain; of the progressive elimination of capped prices. Other agendas focus on farmers and include topics such as: agroecological systems as a productive matrix; access to seeds and their reproduction; the use of existing techniques to preserve food without chemicals; the development of research programs at the local level that generate varieties adapted to local territories; and the creation of a national basic income so that the population can buy food.
Empoderamiento femenino: Abrir caminos sobre la marcha
“Female Empowerment: Opening Paths on the March” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Dixie Edith, Cubadebate, November 6, 2020 
The National Program for the Advancement of Women (PAM) was approved by the Council of Ministers on October 30, after its presentation by the Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), Teresa Amarelle Boué. This document seeks to integrate Cuba’s goals, objectives, and actions in order to respond to gender equality. The program encourages families, communities, media, mass organizations, politics, students, and workplaces to discuss the treatment and role of women in the public and domestic spheres. PAM includes seven areas of work: the economic empowerment of women; public communication; education, prevention and social work; access to key decision-making scenarios; legislative analysis of the regulatory framework and protection systems against all forms of discrimination and violence; sexual and reproductive health and the necessary production of statistics and research. Through centering an educational approach at all levels of schooling, PAM seeks to address gender issues by strengthening interpersonal relationships based on equality, cultivating respect, and encouraging shared responsibility. 
Incentivos y oportunidades de la política de comercialización de productos agropecuarios
“Incentives and Opportunities of Commercialization Policies of Agricultural Products”
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Yudy Castro Morales and Freddy Pérez Cabrera, Granma, November 6, 2020 
The Cuban Council of Ministers recently passed three new policies: the industrial policy, insurance and reinsurance policy, as well as the marketing of agricultural products policy. In relation to agriculture, the strategy has twenty-four measures. The Agricultural Development Bank will be apart of the existing Bank of Commerce and Credit Network and will receive funding from the state budget, allowing for affordable interest rates for farmers. The agricultural products marketing policy includes measures such as: the contracting of agricultural and forestry production in correspondence to State interests; the promotion and encouragement of exports as a source to obtain liquidity in order to guarantee the inputs and resources necessary to increase production; and participation of families in the Urban, Suburban and Family Agriculture Program. The Urban, Suburban and Family Agriculture Program will allow citizens to manage equipment and technologies in order to create value added products aimed at achieving food sovereignty.
See Also: Consejo de Ministros de Cuba aprobó cinco políticas y programas vinculados con la vida económica y social del país
Cuba Takes the First Steps to Have Banking Activity for Agricultural Promotion
*Article Posted in English
By:Jorge Ruiz Miyares, National News, November 6, 2020 
In order to cater to the financial needs of Cuba’s agricultural sector, The Cuban Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil Fernández, stated that the Agricultural Development Bank will be established to promote the nation's food production. This new banking option would be adapted as part of the country's network of Bank of Credit and Commerce - BANDEC-, which is present in almost all territories of the country. Other goals include applying fiscal incentives to stimulate food production and marketing, and stating the wholesale marketing of agricultural inputs and equipment in Free Convertible Currency, explained Alejandro Gil Fernández.
Próxima Cuba a tener su primer edificio energéticamente eficiente
“Next Cuba to Have Its First Energy-efficient Building”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Granma, November 7, 2020 
Cuba is slated to have its first energy-efficient building, currently being financed by the European Union through its regional cooperation program, Euroclima plus, and with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. The new building located in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana will serve as the headquarters of CEDAI. Juan Garay Amores, head of cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union in Cuba, noted that this building is the largest in the Antilles and will serve as a benchmark for the country and region. This project is one of the many steps towards Cuba achieving its goal for 2030, in which twenty-four percent of the nation's energy matrix is expected to come from renewable energy sources. 
Tractor Magric 80.2, un producto cubano para la agricultura
“Tractor Magric 80.2, A Product for Cuban Agriculture” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Germán Veloz Placencia, Granma, November 9, 2020 
A state enterprise in Holguin Province has developed a prototype for a tractor called Magric 80.2 which will soon be tested in fields in the province of Granma. The Magric 80.2 prototype, an 80 horsepower (HP) rear-wheel drive tractor, was created to carry out tasks of plowing, cultivation, fertilization and general transportation needs. About 30% of the components used to build the tractor are sourced nationally. Currently the company is also working to offer a self-propelled machine for corn and other grains. These efforts are part of the great challenge that the Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel presented to the iron and steel industry, encouraging them to create products that increase exports and significantly substitute or reduce imports. 
Cuba evalúa daños causados por Eta
“Cuba Evaluates the Damages Caused by Eta”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: On Cuba News, November 9, 2020
The tropical storm Eta that recently passed through Cuba has left at least 150,000 citizens without electricity, some 74,000 evacuated, and thousands of hectares of flooded crops such as sugarcane, rice, beans, yucca, and bananas according to On Cuba News source. During a meeting of the Economic-Social Organ of the National Defense Council authorities from Ciego de Ávila, Sancti Spíritus and Camagüey reported provincial damages. The most significant thing for the country, said Pardo Guerra, Chief of the National Civil Defense Staff, continued to be rainfall, with the highest accumulated rainfall in the provinces of Granma, Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila.
See Also: Intensas lluvias en Pinar del Río por la influencia de la tormenta tropical Eta
and Eta deja afectaciones en la agricultura de Ciego de Ávila
Food production, another target of the US blockade against Cuba
*Article Posted in English 
By: Cuban News Agency, November 9, 2020 
According to a recent report by the UN General Assembly Resolution 74/7, entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba" the financial and commercial blockade by the United States has resulted in 428 million dollars in losses between April 2019 and March 2020. The impact of the blockade has a wide array of effects on Cuban society, including the agricultural sector. Cuban industries are not permitted to access raw materials, equipment and materials needed to modernize their production lines produced in the US. From inflated meat prices, to rice not being able to be harvested due to a lack of fuel, the Cuban populace continues to suffer under US foriegn policy. 
Las Tunas: Producción de alimentos a partir de fuentes renovables
“Las Tunas: Food production from renewable sources”
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: CubaDebate November 10, 2020 
A new bioenergy project, focused on biogas and biodiesel, is the first of its kind in the municipality of Manatí, in the province of Las Tunas, serving as a national benchmark in the use of renewable energy sources (FRE) with the goal of increasing food production. The project was created by the United Nations Development Program which was seeking to create biogas by-products to be used in the fertilization of soils in order to promote agricultural development. Crops destined for biodiesel production will be cultivated with food crops. With the overarching goal of creating clean technologies to generate energy and food, the Cuban bioenergy company and the United Nations Development Program decided to locate the project base in the Experimental Station of Pastures and Forages of Indio Hatuey, in Matanzas, while using Yaguajay, in Sancti Spíritus, and Manatí , in Las Tunas as  pilot municipalities.
Proyecto Redar, una oportunidad de transformaciones productivas para la mujer
“Project Redar, An Opportunity for Productive Transformations for Women” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Yaqueline De La Rosa Hermida, Radio Guantanamo, November 10, 2020
Guantánamo recently received the specialist of the Community Initiative Exchange and Reference Center (CIERIC), Raisa Labrada, who as a collaborator of the Redar project seeks to empower female farmers in coming up with solutions for challenges they face within the food system. The program aims to address gender inequality, challenges caused by droughts and climate change in the region, and access to certain resources. The psychologist and popular educator supported the creation of a new monitoring tool to evaluate and follow up on the achievements and transformations of the project's beneficiaries, while also measuring personal growth. The initiative has an overarching goal of strengthening food sovereignty in the region. 
Noviembre permitió el mayor almacenamiento de agua acumulada desde 1993
“November Allowed for the Largest Storage of Accumulated Water Since 1993”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Cubadebate, November 12, 2020 
Cuba saw the highest number of accumulated rainfall water since 1993 during the month of November, which was very much needed after years of drought. Argelio Fernández Richelme, Director of Hydrology at the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) noted that, the rainy period, May-Cotober 2020, closed with a cumulative 1,147 mm of rainfall, 115% of the historical averageDespite these encouraging figures, there are provinces where the figures did not meet the average rainfall: Guantánamo (90%), Holguín (99%) and Santiago de Cuba (99%), in which the provincial minimums were registered. Meanwhile, in the Isle of Youth (143%), Matanzas (132%) and Artemisa (131%) the highest rates of rainfall were registered. Across Cuba 142 reservoirs show an increase in their water level collection, among them are Zaza reservoir (Sancti Spíritus, 297 million cubic meters), Cauto del Paso (Granma, 70.8 million) and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (Santiago de Cuba, 44.5 million) according to the National Hydrology Institute. 
Karel, el guajiro que le habló sin nervios de ciencia al Presidente
“Karel, the Peasant who Spoke Without Nerves about Science to the President
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Yosdany Morejón Ortega, Cubadebate, November 13, 2020 
Karel Rafael Fragoso Sánchez, runs a 200 head cattle farm, in which the cows are being fed directly from his land. Karel had no background in agriculture but was determined to revitalize the Golden Button'' estate in Espirituan and convert it into a self-sufficient farm. He consults regularly with specialists, scientists, and universities to enhance his practices. First presented to him at an international silvopastoral congress he attended in Colombia, Karel was introduced to a silage machine that would allow him to produce food of high nutritional value and create a surplus for the dry season. Several investigations report that silage food is compressed to avoid the presence of oxygen and its possible decomposition. Karel has now helped to design a Cuban prototype for a silage bag. The equipment effective and the “Golden Button” farm has already produced more than 300 bags, equivalent to about 13 tons of ensiled feed. With this nutrient dense food source, Karel’s cows have gone from producing 4 to 8 liters a day. 60 years ago the first bovine stallion of the Holstein breed was introduced to the island. From that moment on, genetically improving herds is of vital importance for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cuban science and is also being carried out on the Golden Button farm. According to journalist Yaima Puig Meneses, only 3.27% of the land dedicated to livestock in Cuba is made up of improved pastures, making the work of Karel to create locally produced nutrient dense animal feed even more important. 
Política para la extensión agraria en Cuba, por más eficacia y efectividad
“Policy for Agrarian Extension in Cuba, for More Efficiency and Effectiveness”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Granma, November 17, 2020 
A recent policy proposal for agrarian extension in Cuba was presented in a meeting with the  President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, at the Palace of the Revolution, in conjunction with scientists, experts and farmers linked to food and nutritional sovereignty. The President put forth a proposal to continue to organize weekly meetings between representatives, farmers, and the scientific community. General director of the Grain Research Institute, Telce González Morera, said “that the proposal will strengthen the leadership of municipal governments and local food systems, and that three objectives were set: update the bases that support the agrarian extension system as a process facilitator of the development of the sector, with priority at the local level; establish the concepts and principles for the structural, managerial and functional organization of this system, with a participatory and multi-stakeholder approach; as well as establishing the indicators that allow for monitoring and evaluating of their efficiency and effectiveness.”
Cuba mantiene exportación de miel de abejas, pese a restricciones comerciales
“Cuba Maintains Honey Export, Despite Trade Restrictions”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Granma, November 17, 2020 
Despite the restrictions caused by the US blockade and the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has been able to fulfill its honey exportation commitments. The general director of the Cuban Beekeeping Company, Lázaro Bruno García, points out that this is a feat considering that Cuba was also recently hit by tropical storm Eta. In a conversation with Cubadebate, García, pointed out that honey is an important driver of the Cuban economy, including things such as tobacco and coal. He notes that by 2021 the company intends to increase the commercialization of queen bees, hive boxes, sheets of stamped wax, tools, and inputs for beekeeping. Cuban beekeepers are also committed to the development of beehive derivatives such as bee propolis, candles and cosmetics, that could be included among the exportable products offered by the nation.
Primer Mercado de la Tierra en la finca “La China”
“First Earth Market at the Farm ‘La China’” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Cubapaladar, November 17, 2020 
Following COVID-19 hygiene measures, the first Earth Market was recently held at the “La China” Farm. Over seventy visitors came from different parts of Havana. Products such as fresh veggies, artisanal wines, goat cheeses, jams, and juices could all be found throughout the market. Members of the Sustainable Food Movement (MAS) participated in the event, encouraging healthy eating and sustainable food production. The agroecological farm “La China,” also recently hosted nutrition education and renewable energy workshops. The Sustainable Food Movement of Cuba is dedicated to providing educational activities seeking to encourage the use of agroecological practices in defence of biodiversity and the environment. 
Cuba y la Unión Europea dialogarán sobre desarrollo sostenible
“Cuba and the European Union to Discuss Sustainable Development”
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Redacción OnCuba, November 18, 2020 
The second dialogue between Cuba and the European Union (EU) on sustainable development will take place virtually on Friday November 22, at the headquarters of the delegation of the regional group in Havana, announced the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As part of the dialogue, this Thursday there will be a meeting of representatives between Cuban and European civil society, to discuss the role of these groups and how to best achieve the objectives and goals for sustainable development. The director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the General Directorate for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission, Jolita Butkeviciene, will chair the EU delegation in the intergovernmental dialogue, while director general of Multilateral Affairs and Minrex International Law, Rodolfo Reyes will represent Cuba. As a result of that meeting, the European Union agreed upon a 61.5 million euros non-reimbursable donation to Cuba, in order to finance cooperation projects in various fields such as, food security, adaptation to climate change, renewable energy, and culture and exchange of experiences.
Emergencia cafetalera en las montañas de Villa Clara
“Coffee Production Emergency in the Mountains of Villa Clara” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Freddy Pérez Cabrera, Granma, November 22, 2020 
Early ripening of coffee beans due to tropical storm Eta has caused detrimental effects to the Cuban coffee industry. A massive mobilization to support the harvest of coffee beans was organized by Yudi Rodríguez Hernández, first secretary of the Provincial Committee. Continual rainfall in places such as Arroyo Bermejo, Pico Blanco, Topes de Sabanita, Veguitas, and Boquerones have made these efforts difficult. Of the 8,000 cans in the ripening phase when the storm arrived, about 65% have already been harvested, hence the urgency to continue harvesting. Cuba seeks to harvest 150 tons of coffee destined for internal and external trade, before the end of the year.
Avanza en Holguín manejo sostenible de ecosistemas frágiles
Advances in Holguin Sustainable Management of Fragile Ecosystems
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Ania Fernández Torres, Ahora, Novemember 22, 2020 
In the province of Holguin a variety of steps are being made towards protecting the local ecosystem. At the La Esperanza farm, owned by José Antonio Ricardo Montenegro, forming part of Cooperativa de Creditos y Servicios (CCS) Juan Manuel Márquez, of the Calixto García municipality, a demonstration site has been established for local ecosystem management. This 14-hectare farm is involved in the Sustainable Land Management Project (CP 15), which seeks to reduce soil degradation, promote sustainable development, and achieve greater food security.  Montenegro implements non-invasive farming practices by interspersing food production with the natural forest. With the overarching goal of increasing environmental investments, enhancing productivity and profitability of livestock, improving water flow, and increasing technical capacities for courses, workshops, on environmental education, the project is being carried out throughout the country. Bárbara Rojas, head of the Department of Science, Technology and Development of MINAG in Holguin, said “that these farms are favorable spaces to harmonize agricultural activities with the environment, protect weak agroecosystems, increase forest cover, protect water and soil and at the same time intermingle in the production of food to guarantee food and nutritional sovereignty and prepare ourselves to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

CUSAN is an initiative coordinated by the Caribbean Agroecology Institute and funded by the Ford Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation and the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.
Copyright © 2018 Cuba-US Agroecology Network, All rights reserved.

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