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

January News Summary  
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
With the Biden-Harris administration now in office come hopes for a quick return to Obama era policies of engagement with Cuba. However, in a last act of malice, on January 12th the Trump administration placed Cuba on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List, which will complicate efforts to dismantle the tightening of sanctions over the past 4 years. For a summary of the widespread condemnation of this decision and what this may mean for Cuba-US relations see Center for Democracy in the Americas new brief and analysis from The Nation’s Peter Kornbluh.  
Please see our summaries below for January’s news on environment, agriculture and food issues, including: advances made in a coastal resilience project, analysis from the Ministry of Agriculture on investment needs thru 2030, 42 new export contracts signed by non-state entities who are taking advantage of new export rules passed in July 2020, 43,600 new urban farms sprouted across the country in 2020, and the importance of using byproducts to reduce waste and create resilient closed loop agrifood systems that is less dependent on foreign inputs.
Please join us for a virtual conference February 22 titled Cuba-US Working Together Again: Lessons From Environmental Cooperation.
Ecosistemas y comunidades resilientes, el sueño para hacer realidad desde Nuevitas 
“Resilient Ecosystems and Communities, A Dream to Become True from Nuevitas” 
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Lauris Henriquez Arocha, Radio Nuevitas, January 4, 2021 
A recently launched international project called Coastal Resilience, has been conducting socio-ecological research in 3 provinces - Ciego de Avila, Sancti Sprirtus, and Villa Clara. A recent analysis demonstrates that the Cuban mangroves are at risk due to anthropic actions, large losses of coastal vegetation, poor management of rainwater, and sanitation at the community level. A group of local experts has been formed to create a methodological tool to assist in municipal planning for the adaptation to climate change.
No ver los “toros” desde la barrera
“Not Seeing the “Bulls” From the Barrier 
*Article Posted in Spanish
By: Gladys Leidys Ramos López, Granma, January 5, 2021 
According to Jorge Echemendía Abstengo, specialist in the livestock technology Division of the MINAG Livestock Group, securing a consistent water supply is an ongoing challenge for farmers in Cuba. The technological obsolescence of the aqueduct and pumping systems, as well as the lack of maintenance, causes deficiencies in the quality and quantity of water. Abstengo, notes that the financial blockade by the US makes it difficult to replace the water supply pipes as Cuba is not able to easily access the necessary materials. The country's recent long periods of drought have also added to the problem. The blockade also takes a toll on farmers' capacity to access the needed supplies in order to harvest the available fodder during the rainy season, resulting in a lack of feed during the dry season.  A program has been created to increase the production of protein-dense plants to supplement the concentrate cattle are being fed. This program is also making the most of the invasive species marabu, by using it to produce carbon for export. 
¿Por qué la soya es un cultivo estratégico en el autoabastecimiento?
“Why is soy a strategic crop in self-sufficiency?”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Germán Veloz Placencia, Granma, January 11, 2021 
Evelio García Sánchez, a soy farmer from Velasco, Holguín recently spoke with the President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel about the nation's soy production. Sánchez is part of the Credit and Services Cooperative (CCS) Mártires del 24 de Mayo, and graduated from the Universidad de Oriente in 1976 with a degree in agricultural engineering.  He is also a grain specialist and researcher at the Velasco Agricultural Extension Research and Extension Unit. Sánchez believes that it's viable to cultivate soy on a small scale, he himself does so, and uses the soy both for oil production and animal feed. During his time studying and farming soy Sánchez has researched over thirty varieties. He emphasized that in order to increase the production of soy on a national level it’s important to produce more biofertilizers, such as Rhizobium. He also states that in order to address different issues around pests, integrated management of the crop is important, including planting local varieties during the appropriate season. He concludes that soy is a strategic crop to help municipalities achieve self-sufficiency, and is a vital component in increasing animal feed production. 
Comercializarán tractores en MLC
“They will market tractors in MLC”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Yisell Rodríguez Milán, Granma, January 15, 2021 
Independent farmers and state companies will now be able to acquire tractors in freely convertible currency. This equipment is currently being marketed by the Logistics Business Group of the Ministry of Agriculture (Gelma). The Ministry of Agriculture also recently negotiated the commercialization of 32 new national products including egg cartons, boots, vinyl paints, gloves, plastic buckets, and sanitizing products. Products are soon to be available at the sixteen sales centers located across the provincial capitals, currently there are seven in operation. Some 2,000 customers have already visited the establishments and 628 purchases have been made, the majority by farmers. 
La CLOC se manifiesta en contra de la inclusión de Cuba a la lista de Estados Patrocinadores del Terrorismo
“The CLOC speaks out against the inclusion of Cuba on the list of States Sponsoring Terrorism”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: CLOCVC, January 13, 2021 
The  Latin American Coordinator of Rural Organizations (CLOC), part of La Via Campesina in Latin America and the Caribbean, recently denounced the inclusion of Cuba on the United States list of “States Sponsoring Terrorism”. CLOC rejects the aggressions by the United States government against the sovereignty of the Cuban people. On January 11, 2021, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced that Cuba had been added to the terrorist list, a measure that seeks to continue the historic and criminal economic blockade that has plagued the Island for six decades. CLOC continues to stand in solidarity with the Cuban peoples and declared that, “the neoliberal model does not solve the crisis; the socialist model defends the life, dignity and unity of the peoples.”
Ciencia en Holguín en función de la soberanía alimentaria
“Science in Holguín based on Food Sovereignty
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Katerine Hernández Pérez, Radio Angulo, January 19, 2021  
The University of Holguín (Uho) is dedicated to using science in order to increase food production, which is currently considered a provincial priority. Alexander Salgado Verdecia, director of the Center of Studies for Arid Agroecosystems of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the Uho, confirmed that poor soil quality is one of the most impending factors in relation to agricultural production. The specialist explained that the quality of the soil is valued by categories; I, which is optimal only accounts for one percent of the land used for cultivation in the province, level II (nine percent), level III (13 percent), and the rest is category IV  which qualifies as very poor soil quality. The specialist emphasized the importance of using organic fertilizer, biofertilizers, and biostimulants for the foliage of plants in times of drought. Another factor that affects soil quality is the appropriate use of technology. Current university research is focused on helping understand the soil quality to better inform farmers of what is truly viable to cultivate within the region with the overarching goal of increasing food production. 

Agricultura en Cuba requiere inversiones millonarias hasta 2030
“Agriculture in Cuba requires millions in investments thru 2030”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Prensa Latina, January 20, 2021 
In the last five years, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) has made investments reaching an annual average of 514 million pesos, aimed at improving infrastructure, recovery and expansion of productive capacities, modernization, and introduction of agricultural technologies, and equipment. Yet Cuban agriculture requires 900 million pesos of investment per year until 2030, in order to ensure economic and social recovery of the sector. Among the priorities of this investment is the substitution of imports and increasing exports of rice, beans, corn, milk, meat. Urban, suburban, and family agriculture will also be prioritized, with the rehabilitation of all the giant organoponics, in order to increase the cultivation of vegetables and fruits. In the agroforestry area, the investments will be based on the feasibility studies approved in various prioritized programs, focusing on coffee, cocoa, coconut, and honey. 
Cuba: non-state forms of management sign 42 export contracts
*Article Posted in English 
By: On Cuba, January 22, 2021 
In July 2020, the Cuban government made the decision to give non-state forms of management the possibility to export and import products and services, and dozens of state companies were designated to mediate in these businesses. To date, 42 contracts have been signed by cooperatives, private business owners, and farmers to export products internationally. This accounts for roughly 5% of the 863 foreign trade contracts signed between non-state forms of management and specialized entities in Cuba. Rodrigo Malmierca, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX), emphasized that exports are a vital component of the government’s strategy to boost the Cuban economy. The Minister stressed the point that the exporter receives 80% of the income in foreign currency and the remaining in national currency.
Avanza Cuba en implementación del Plan de soberanía alimentaria y educación nutricional
“Cuba Advances in the Implementation of the Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Education Plan”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: ACN, January 22, 2021 
The Minister of Agriculture, Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero, called to move immediately to the second stage of the implementation of the Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education Plan. In a press release published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG), it was reported that there was already a considerable amount of money to finance the plan, provided for the most part by foreign entities that have shown interest in collaborating. Among them are the Italian Development Agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Inter-American Bank.
Más de 4000 patios de familias se vinculan a la producción de alimentos en Pinar del Río
“More than 4000 Family Patios are Linked to Food Production in Pinar del Río
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Granma January 24, 2021 
The National Coordinator of the Revolution Defense Committees (CDR), Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, recently visited the Province of Pinar del Rio, where over 4,000 families are cultivating food in their backyards. More than 43,600 new patios joined the CDR's “Grow your Part” movement in 2020, a movement in which national citizens were called to produce food in the spaces available in their homes, small patios and open plots. Through this effort even entire garbage dumps have been reclaimed and revitalized to produce food. 
Agroecología al pie del mogote en Pinar del Río
“Agroecology at the Foot of the Karst Mountains in Pinar del Rio”
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Dainarys Campos Montesino, January 25, 2021 
La Cueva agro-ecological farm, in the Viñales municipality has exemplary biodiversity, growing anything from peaches to broccoli and cauliflower. The farm was started five years ago by Yosbel Fernández Martínez and her brother Yosviel. The land was rather degraded when they started yet today it has over 40 varieties of fruits and an organoponic with 30 types of vegetables. They also raise the cherished melipona bees for honey production. The family runs a small restaurant for tourists that visit the area, yet because of restrictions due to COVID they have refocused their production to supply the local community, childrens circles, and nursing homes. This farm, with its young land stewards has become a national reference and is currently working on creating a project with the Viñales National Park in conjunction with the Provincial Heritage Council.
Subproductos, cantera para ampliar y diversificar producción de alimentos
“By-products, Quarry to Expand and Diversify Food Production
*Article Posted in Spanish 
By: Allianet Beltran Alvarez, January 25, 2021 
Cuba actively makes use of by-products, helping to reduce waste and make the most of available raw materials, both Cuba’s agriculture and food industry are infamous for their capacity to do so. Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Giraldo Jesús Martín, encourages the country not to move towards an agricultural system based on imports and high inputs, but rather towards a resilient closed looped system, in which materials are recycled. For example, where there is a mineral deposit, they might be able to create fertilizers or animal manure might be able to be used to generate energy, the country's large production of rice creates a wonderful by-product of rice husks. Israel Lugo Hernández, head of the Department of Agricultural Technique and Development of the Rice Technology Division of the Agricultural Business Group, notes that when rice husks are used in drying ovens it saves 16 liters of diesel per ton. Given Cuba's financial limitations to import raw materials, together with the restrictions imposed by the US blockade, and the most recent consequences of COVID-19, recycling by-products is an important process that contributes to the diversification of products supplied to the populace. 

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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