View this email in your browser
A monthly news brief highlighting news and events related to
agriculture, food and the environment in Cuba.

October News Summary

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A much-needed change in US policy towards Cuba hinges on today’s presidential election where a Biden win will likely bring back an Obama pro-engagement approach. Our fingers are crossed. In the meantime, this months news summaries include: announcement of a phasing out of the decades long ration book system, hotels growing food on their compounds, a focus on increased production of animal feed to stem the high dependence on imports, and several articles on the continued advances of the national Plan for Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Education, a plan which lays the foundation for the accelerated development of local food systems. Please also check out a number of videos listed at the end of the news summaries.
Sector turístico responde al llamado de producción de alimentos 
“Tourism Sector Responds to the Call for Food Production”
*Article Posted In Spanish 
By: Bárbara Vasallo, ACN, September 29, 2020 
A vibrant production of vegetables lines the terrace of Cuba’s international hotel Meliá, as the nation seeks to convert empty lots into food production during the crisis caused by COVID-19. These small farm sites have provided the hotel industry with work during a time in which tourism has suffered. The fresh food being offered in hotel restaurants and bars will serve as an added benefit to guests when tourism picks back up. Across the peninsula of Hicacos, twenty-nine hotels have started to cultivate gardens on site. While touring various facilities, President of the Matanzas Provincial Defense Council, Liván Izquierdo Alonso, urged those in the tourism industry to provide produce for the local population while hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect the island. 
A falta de pienso, plantas proteicas
“In the Absence of Feed, Protein Plants”
*Article Posted In Spanish 
By: Freddy Pérez Cabrera, Granma, October 1, 2020 
If Cuba’s plant protein program were to develop, the nation would see a substantial rise in livestock production. Designed by Fidel almost a decade ago, the proposal includes several projects: one dedicated to moringa as a human nutritional supplement, another aimed at the production of seed for protein rich plants, and a third focuses on the cultivation of fodder for animal feed. Currently Cuba spends more than 800 million dollars annually to import wheat, soy, and maize destined for animal feed. Scientific institutions are actively supporting the effort to minimize inputs for farmers, some of these institutions include: Indio Hatuey Pasture and Forage Station, The Institute of Animal Science (ICA), the National Center for the Production of Laboratory Animals (Cenpalab), and the Territorial Research Station of Sugar Cane. President Díaz-Canel encouraged that the Sierra Maestra program be extended, whose main goal is to obtain milk and meat from animals being fed solely fodder and protein plants. 
Agroecología, una estrategia urgente en tiempos de COVID
“Agroecology, An Urgent Strategy During Times of COVID”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Yanel Blanco Miranda, Juventud Técnica, October 1, 2020 
The first Ibero-American Forum for Youth Agroecologists, took place between the 29th of September to the 1st of October. With the overarching goal of creating viable livelihoods for youth seeking to cultivate resilient food systems, the forum drew people from around the globe. Over twenty experts participated from seventeen different countries including Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Chile and Cuba. Organized by the Group of Young Agroecologists (GJA) of the Cuban Association of Agricultural and Forestry Technicians (ACTAF), the forum had a strong emphasis on creating food systems that center local communities and promote self-sufficiency through local food production. Director of "Alejandro de Humboldt" Institute for Fundamental Research in Tropical Agriculture (INIFAT),  Yanisbell Sánchez Rodríguez, stressed the importance of preserving agricultural biodiversity and centering local production. Other topics included the production of seeds, integrated farming systems, women and agroecology. The forum highlighted the important role agroecology has in shaping resilient food systems during and post COVID-19 pandemic. 
Fructifica esfuerzo exportador de la agricultura cubana, afirma ministro
“A Successful Export Effort of Cuban Agriculture, Affirms Minister”
*Article Posted In Spanish 
By: Pro Cuba, October 2, 2020 
As export efforts begin to flourish, Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, boasts that the quality of Cuba’s avocados are known throughout Italy. The recent arrival of avocados in Italy is due to a newly formed alliance between individual producers, cooperatives and exporting companies. The Italian Agency for Cultural and Economic Exchange with Cuba, was responsible for the first arrival of Cuban avocados in Rome. A group of Cuban residents and Italian’s who stand in solidarity with Cuba called “Healthy, Just, and Solidarity”, noted that the distribution of Cuban avocados reached sixteen Italian cities.  The success of these foreign trade efforts can be seen throughout provinces across Cuba and eighty percent of revenue will be in freely convertible currency (CUC).
More than 26,000 people evacuated in western Cuba during passage of Hurricane Delta
*Article Posted in English 
By: OnCuba, October 7, 2020 
As of October 7th the provinces of  Pinar del Río, Artemisa, and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, entered into a cyclonic alarm phase as Hurricane Delta approached the island. Across the westernmost provinces of Cuba over 26,000 people were evacuated. Projected heavy rains and winds combined with coastal swells and flooding are slated to affect the provinces. The region's reservoirs are under “constant observation” and have already begun to be drained in some areas. With 5,883 positive cases and 123 deaths according to the OnCuba article, another dimension of complexity is added as Cuba enters into hurricane season on top of the already grave situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Soberanía alimentaria: la urgencia postergada (I)
“Food Sovereignty: The Delayed Urgency (I)”
*Article Posted In Spanish 
By: Ariel Dacal Díaz, OnCuba, October 7, 2020 
The new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba recognizes, in article 77, that "everyone has the right to healthy and adequate food." In order to achieve this goal, the Cuban cabinet has recently passed the Plan for Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Education, which recognizes that change happens on a local territorial level were municipalities have more decision-making power. The Cuban government has implemented an array of programs over the years in order to promote food sovereignty. Some of these programs include: the Urban, Suburban and Family Agriculture Program, the Program for the Integral Development of the Mountainous Regions (Turquino Plan), established in 1987, the Municipal Self-Supply Program, approved in 2018, the Agroecological Farmer to Farmer Movement, the Program for the Production of Biological Control Agents, Biopesticides, Biostimulants and Biofertilizers, and the National Program for Phytogenic Resources. While the Cuban government has taken a multifaceted approach to achieving food sovereignty it has not always been successful. In order to come up with a more integrated plan a list of proposals have recently been put forth by academics and former Cuban officials. Some of these stated proposals include: the autonomy of cooperatives, prioritization of  resource allocation using limited foreign exchange funds to purchase inputs and equipment, making idle lands easily available for agricultural production, and the increased granting of credits that allows for yields to be enhanced. 
Cuba: eliminarán la libreta después de unificación monetaria
“Cuba: Ration Booklet Will be Removed After Monetary Unification”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: OnCuba, October 8, 2020 
As Cuba commenced its plan for monetary unification, President Díaz-Canel, announced that the ration booklet would be eliminated following the first phase of unification. Created in 1962, the ration booklet has provided the Cuban people with basic products for over six decades. Accompanied by other economic components, the slated monetary unification will also seek to create a pension and wage reform. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez acknowledged that the monetary and exchange rate unification would not alleviate Cuba from all of its economic hardships, but that it would enhance its economic efficiency. Cuba does not seek to replace its currency as it did in the beginning of the revolution, but rather to unify the current currencies. He also sought to assure both Cubans and foreigners, that their bank accounts would be respected in both foreign and local exchange accounts. The president concluded in his publicly televised address to the nation that in the next few weeks Vice President Alejandro Gil Fernández and a group of advisors would explain the fundamental concepts in an accessible way to the populace. 
Soberanía alimentaria: una urgencia pendiente (II)
“Food Sovereignty: A Pending Urgency (II) 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Ariel Dacal Díaz, On Cuba News, October 10, 2020 
The recent strategy put forth by the Cuban government in the National Plan for Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Education, invites us to look at the difference between food security and food sovereignty. Both terms were born out of the historic neoliberal period, with the common goal of providing a stable food supply to nourish the populace, yet they put forth very distinct development paradigms. Both terms were presented at the 1996 World Food Summit, held in Rome by the FAO. Food security focuses on every person's right to have access to healthy and nutritious food, whereas food sovereignty, put forth by the Via Campesina, refers to the right for communities to define their own agricultural and food policies, and to protect and regulate domestic production. Food sovereignty transcends the need for food and addresses systemic issues around markets being dumped with surplus products from other countries, and the uncontrolled liberalization of trade in order to defend the right to safe, nutritious, and ecologically sustainable food, according to Díaz. Food sovereignty puts forth structural changes to Cuba’s agrarian system, centering the autonomous rights of communities, the production of technology that combines traditional knowledge, the right to agrarian reform, and fair prices for farmer’s crops, allowing them to live a dignified life. Cuba has put forth various successful programs in order to promote food sovereignty, among them are the National Urban Agriculture Program, which reaches more than 350,000 farmers, the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) “farmer to farmer” program, and Cuba’s cooperative system, which with 30% of the nations arable land produces 70% of the national food. Despite this Cuba still imports about 70% of its food. It is essential to create integrated, innovative and locally oriented solutions in order to achieve food sovereignty in Cuba. 
Soberanía alimentaria en Cuba: Ir a la ciencia, también en asuntos de ganadería
“Food Sovereignty: Turns Towards Science in the Case of Livestock” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Elier Tamayo García, CITMA, October 11, 2020 
Cuba’s livestock sector is turning towards science, as it seeks to improve techniques that enhance the health of animals and the land. A recent meeting convened by the President Díaz-Canel, gathered scientists and experts associated with food and nutritional sovereignty, in order to evaluate several technological alternatives to enhance the production of food destined for cattle farming. An investigation conducted by the Institute of Animal Science (ICA), is working alongside farmers to come up with alternative designs to support the increased sustainable production of animal feed. According to ICA researcher, María Felicia Díaz, only 3.27% of ranching land has improved pastures within Cuba. In order to advance Cuba’s livestock production various actions were identified, such as the need to increase the production and quality of: seeds for fodder, protein rich plants, and crops destined for animal feed.  Increasing the use of phosphate rock as an alternative to calcium phosphate, commonly imported to Cuba, was also identified as a priority. 
See Also: Pasos concretos hacia la soberanía alimentaria y nutricional
El desmonte de la libreta de abastecimiento será muy gradual, explica Marino Murillo
“The Dismantling of the Ration Book Will be very Gradual, Explains Marino Murillo”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Yisell Rodríguez Milán, Granma, October 14, 2020 
Head of the Commission on the Implementation and Guidelines for Cuba’s Ration Book,  Marino Murillo Jorge, assured that the transition to end the use of the ration book would be gradual. On October 8, during a television appearance, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez stated that in order to address supply deficits and protect against hoarding and speculation, a first stage of dismantling the ration book would be implemented as a way to ensure citizens' access to basic items. Mariano Murillo Jorge, who served as Cuba’s Minister of Internal Trade from 2006-2009, admits that the ration books have been good distribution mechanisms during Cuba’s recent shortages. 
Frei Betto: “Cuba puede dar un ejemplo al mundo de soberanía alimentaria y educación nutricional”
“Frei Betto: ‘Cuba Can Set an Example to the World of Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education"
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, CubaDebate, October 16, 2020 
Arleen Rodriguez, of Cuba Debate, questions this year's celebration of World Food Day, as across the globe there is an increase in food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She sits down to have a heart to heart discussion with Brazilian, theologian Frei Betto, who serves as an FAO advisor on these very issues. Betto seems confident that Cuba’ new Food Sovereignty and National Education Plan (Plan SAN) will pave the way in addressing some of the systemic issues within Cuba’s food system. He identifies four important measures, first the need to address food waste, second the valuing of Cuba’s cultural and culinary diversity, third the exchange of experiences between different territories, and the fourth increasing creativity in the Cuban diet and the advancement of nutrition education. With an overarching goal of decreasing Cuba’s imported products the Plan SAN seeks to amplify food sovereignty policies through the management of committees, cooperatives, association, and community organizations. 
Día Mundial de la Alimentación: el Plan SAN de Cuba
“World Food Day: Cuba's SAN Plan”
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Frei Betto, Granma, October 16, 2020 
With the recent passing of Cuba’s first National Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education Plan, the nation has a lot to celebrate during this year's World Food Day. Passed on the 22nd of July, with the support of Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO, the Plan SAN was formulated with the participation of twenty-two ministers, eleven business groups, twenty-five scientists, ten civil society organizations, and five international organisms. The plan will now be brought to the territories through a participatory process and the office of the Plan SAN and MINAG will work conjointly to put together the legal framework. According to data from the latest Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI, 2020), undernourishment of the Cuban population continues to be below 2.5 percent, despite Cuba’s economic limitations and the impact of climatic events. Yet at the same time, Cuba still invests around 2 billion dollars in imported food, based on the 2018 Cuban Statistical Yearbook.  The need for nutrition education is coupled with the rising problem of obesity. According to the SOFI 2020 report, Cuba has a 24.6 percent obesity rate amongst adults. The integration of different strategies will be key in achieving the goals put forth by the National Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education Plan.
See Also: Soberanía alimentaria y educación nutricional en Cuba, una prioridad nacional 
Ministro de Agricultura de Cuba resalta importancia del Plan SAN en Conferencia Regional de la FAO para América Latina y el Caribe
“Minister of Agriculture of Cuba stresses importance of the SAN Plan at FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: CubaDebate, October 20, 2020 
The Cuban Minister of Agriculture, Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero, spoke at the 36th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean. In his speech he spoke of Cuba’s priority to enhance food production and discussed the twenty-four new measures that are part of the larger economic and social strategy recently passed to address the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rodríguez Rollero celebrated the FAO's support with the construction of Cuba’s Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education Plan, approved by the Council of Ministers last July. According to the minister, this plan lays the foundation for the accelerated development of local food systems and territorial development. The minister listed an array of achievements including, increased exports, the development of urban and suburban agriculture, the expansion of animal feed production, greater autonomy for cooperatives, and forty-three new measures to enhance state companies participation within the agricultural and forestry sectors. In concluding, he emphasized the fact that one of the greatest obstacles is the ongoing blockade by the United States. 
En Villa Clara nueva tienda regional para la venta de insumos agropecuarios
“In Villa Clara a New Regional Store Agricultural Input Products” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By:Jesús Álvarez López, CMHW, September 16, 2020 
The nation is slated to open three new regional stores, selling agricultural products in the provinces of Santa Clara, Havana, and Santiago. The first store to open was in Villa Clara and sells products such as machetes, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, lime, and other agricultural inputs. The new stores will also carry a limited supply of tractors and tractor mechanical supplies. A wide variety of resources will now be available to Cuban farmers and sold in freely convertible currency (CUC). 
Transformaciones en el sector agropecuario: ¿Qué impactos tienen las nuevas medidas?
“Transformations with the Agricultural Sector: What Impact do the New Measures Have?”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Randy Alonso Falcón, Lissett Izquierdo Ferrer, Ania Terrero, CubaDebate, October 21, 2020 
The Minister of Agriculture, Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero, has approved twenty-four legal measures as part of a new economic and social strategy for Cuba’s agricultural sector. Included in the measures is the goal of strengthening state enterprises within the sector, expanding the approval of companies for imports and exports, the rational use of hydraulic resources, and increasing foriegn currency accounts for agricultural cooperatives. According to Rollero, 637 agricultural cooperatives out of a total of 4,818, have established foriegn currency accounts and thirty-seven cooperatives have secured contracts with state enterprises to export products. Another result of the new measures has allowed for twenty-nine companies to retain 80 percent of their income in foreign currency, in order to purchase inputs and redistribute them in the value chain. Other advances included the increased use of added value products for the agriculture and forestry sectors, including the use of a trademark system, industrial processing, and increased production of packaging. The Logistics Business Group (GELMA), belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, was established on May 21, 2002, the group is made up of 24 companies, 17 destined for commercialization and 15 in charge of agricultural supplies, as well as one specialized in logistics. GLEMA is currently working with the Faculty of Economics at the University of Havana, in order to create a management model for logistic chains to support producers. 
Cuba to Promote Exports to Caribbean Countries
* Article Posted in English 
By: Presna Latina, October 24, 2020 
As Cuba faces both the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the US blockade, the nation continues to promote the export of products and services to representatives of Caribbean nations. On October 27th, the Chamber of Commerce will meet with Caribbean ambassadors to discuss various opportunities within the construction, biotechnology, and mining industries. Since August, as part of a new socio-economic strategy Cuba has been creating legal regulations to promote the exportation of products. This includes opportunities for private entrepreneurs, which have been taking advantage of the new policies by selling charcoal, fruits, vegetables, natural chemicals, and timber to other countries. 
Establece Gobierno de La Habana precios máximos de venta para productos cárnicos y agropecuarios
“Government of Havana Establishes Maximum Sales Prices for the Sale of Meat and Agricultural Products”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Tribuna de Habana, October 23, 2020 
The local government of Havana establishes price regulations for agricultural products and meat, originally approved by the National Assembly through the Constitutions Resolution 62.  The following article outlines the new legal regulations, while also providing price points for each individual product. High quality meat, sausages, and smoked products, within the meat manufacturing sector will now fall under the new regulations. Butchers and small self-employed businesses selling these products with value added benefits, will be permitted to surpass the approved price caps, by 40%, according to the Provincial Council of the People's Power of Havana. 

Trabajo de Amor (Labor of Love)
Growing food is hard labor. But it can also be a labor of love. Ismar Garcé Palmero and Roger Santiesteban Anazco have been operating an organopónico in Sancti Spiritus city since 1994. The quantities they produce may seem like nothing (“una bobería”) in comparison to the large state farms (empresas estatales) where they began their careers, but using agroecology and permaculture – and building on their love for nature and each other – they are able to feed their family, supply their neighbors, and inspire a community. In an era of pandemic, climate change, and economic crisis, could this be the path to greater prosperity, sustainability, and personal happiness?
The War on Cuba from Belly of the Beast
Donald Trump’s policy toward Cuba harkens back to the Cold War. Trump has stacked the State Department and National Security Council with Cuban-American hardliners who have turned Latin American policy into a single- minded pursuit of regime change. The Trump administration has launched an unprecedented barrage of sanctions against Cuba that has battered the country’s precarious economy and shattered the détente brokered by former President Barack Obama. Trump recently explained what is driving his policy: the belief that “Latinos” will deliver him an electoral college victory in Florida in 2020. The outcome of the 2020 US presidential elections could hinge on Trump’s policy toward Cuba. Yet major media outlets have failed to report on his onslaught against the island, not to mention the money and interests driving it. The War On Cuba is a series of 3 films that fills this void, combining rock- solid investigative journalism with stunning cinematography. The episodes document the harsh realities on the ground in Cuba and follow the money in the US.
Resistance and Resilience: Responses to the Climate Crisis from Cuba and Puerto Rico
A multi part series of virtual panels uniting voices of academics, farmers, activists, citizens, and government officials from Cuba and Puerto Rico to engage in discussion on environmental history and justice, agroecology and food systems, coastal resilience, immigration, public health, and energy. 

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.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 8655, Burlington, Vermont, 05402

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network · P.O. Box 8655 · Burlington, VT 05402 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp