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

June News Summary

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

As the world stands at a crossroads and countries begin to imagine what post-pandemic societies will look like, many in Cuba see this crisis as an opportunity to fully implement reforms outlined in Cuba’s National Plan for Social and Economic Development and the new Constitution that pave the way for decentralized, sustainable local food systems rooted in agroecology.
 
In early June, President Diaz Canel referred to the need to “make the commercialization of products more dynamic with diverse variants, with alternatives that allow for local level management so producers can get their products to the market”. This statement refers to the need to decentralize food distribution, which is now mostly in the purview of the centrally managed state distribution entity Acopio. Several articles this month analyze the need for reforms to this system, including two from Dr. Juan Triana where he calls for the shortening of distribution chains and incentives for family farmers to acquire and produce the land. Another lead agricultural economist, Dr. Betsy Anaya Cruz, points out the pros and cons of Acopio and the diversification of markets. Cubadebate published a 4-part series of articles written by experts Dr. Luis A. Montero Cabrera and Dr. Giraldo Martin Martin, which provide a deep analysis of Cuba’s achievements in sustainable food systems and the remaining obstacles that need to be addressed to achieve greater food soveriegnty.
 
The Cuban government continues to undertake diverse measures to address the crisis, from the promotion of courier services delivering food to those most in need, to the expansion of biopesticide efforts, to a national call to increase agricultural production of short-cycle crops.
 
Numerous international support and solidarity efforts are also underway. At the start of the month, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed an agreement to begin the implementation of a new climate resilience project, aiming to improve food and nutritional security by increasing the stability of local food production systems, employment, and access to water. Japan’s International Cooperation Agency recently donated $10 million worth of agricultural equipment, Italy is collaborating in the development of a strategic plan to shorten supply chains, and domestic rice production has increased with the support of Vietnamese technical advisers
 
Read more about these stories and other food, agriculture and environment news in our news summaries below.
 
 
NEWS
 
Sortear la escasez
"Avoid scarcity"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Glenda Boza, Periodismo del Barrio, June 1st, 2020
To confront the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cuban government has undertaken several measures in various Cuban localities, such as the delivery of food packages via courier services, to guarantee food to the most vulnerable people. In addition to these government measures, citizens and entrepreneurs have also organized to assist. The Akokán project in Los Pocitos, Marianao, which not only guarantees food for the most vulnerable people in the community but also encourages the production of small organic gardens and orchards. The Corona Voluntarios Cuba is another organization that has emerged during the quarantine. It has over 200 volunteers who help deliver food, medicine, and toiletries to low-income, elderly people from the community. These are just some of the many initiatives of private citizens that are working alongside government efforts, to confront domestic shortages during this time of the global pandemic. 
 
Chequea Machado Ventura produccion de alimentos en Cuba
"Machado Ventura checks food production in Cuba"
*Article posted in Spanish
Sierra Maestra, June 1st, 2020
Recently, José Ramón Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba held meetings in the provinces of Artemisa, Havana, Mayabeque, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey to check on the current status of food production amid the coronavirus pandemic on the island. In these meetings, Machado Ventura highlighted the need to diversify production and increase yields to meet the current needs of the Cuban populace. While the state of agriculture varies widely across the island, Machado Ventura made sure to indicate that the latest efforts to improve national food production is not a passing fad, nor an isolated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead the product of a larger philosophy to move the island towards increased self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector. 
See also:
Producir más alimentos y con mejores rendimientos tiene que ser una filosofía de trabajo
"Producing more food and with better yields must be a work philosophy"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Yudaisis Moreno Benítez et al., Granma, June 1st, 2020

Firman Cuba y la FAO acuerdo para impulsar sistemas agroalimentarios más sostenibles
"Cuba and FAO sign agreement to promote more sustainable agri-food systems"
*Article posted in Spanish
Cuba Debate, June 1st, 2020
On Monday, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed an agreement to begin the implementation of a new climate resilience project in the country. The initiative, entitled "Increasing the resilience of rural families and communities to the climate through the rehabilitation of productive territories in selected localities of the Republic of Cuba", was designed by MINAG and the FAO in coordination with local communities, civil society and other stakeholders, and was recently approved by the Green Climate Fund (FVC) in Geneva. The project aims to improve food and nutritional security and to increase the resilience and stability of local food production systems, employment, and access to water in seven vulnerable Cuban municipalities. This project constitutes an important contribution to Cuba's efforts to fulfill its National Plan for Economic and Social Development by 2030.
 
Mi reino por un boniato
"My kingdom for a sweet potato"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Dr.C Juan Triana Cordoví, OnCuba, June 1st, 2020
Long relied on by poor and rich alike, sweet potatoes are one of the five main dishes of the Cuban diet in good times and bad. In the current pandemic situation, the production and consumption of sweet potato is being promoted once again. With a comparatively short growing cycle, sweet potatoes fulfill recent calls by the government to increase agricultural production and the sowing of short-cycle crops. As data indicates, however, the problem is not entirely one of production but also of distribution. Today Cuba, like many countries, is struggling with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, but this represents just one front in a much longer struggle for development and food self-sufficiency on the island. According to the author, these challenges can be remedied in part by liberating the productive forces of the Cuban agricultural sector, which includes efforts to encourage family farming, promote foreign direct investment, and improve local food systems and markets. Many of these efforts are not costly, but would require a rethinking of the current way the Cuban food system operates at multiple levels. 
 
Producción de arroz: prioridad de agricultores holguineros
"Rice production: priority for Holguin farmers"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Maribel Flamand Sánchez, Ahora!, June 2nd, 2020
In the context of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has greatly hindered food imports to Cuba, the government has called on the agricultural sector to increase rice production to meet domestic demand. Currently, Miguel Pousá Rodríguez, a farmer with the October Revolution cooperative in the municipality of Mayarí in Holguín province, is the largest rice producer in all of Eastern Cuba. During their last cycle, Rodríguez and the October Revolution cooperative harvested some 400 tons of rice on 45 hectares. This year, in response to the government's call, they have planted 55 hectares with the hope of eventually reaching 100 hectares and one thousand tons of rice in the years to come. The rice that they produce will not only serve to meet domestic demand and improve food security, but will also provide seed for future rice planting campaigns in the province.
 
Alianza estimula a producir más alimentos
"Alliance stimulates to produce more food"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Ana Margarita González, Trabajadores, June 2nd, 2020
The Local Self-Supply Project for Sustainable and Healthy Food (ALASS) will use 1.5 million euros from its budget to immediately support the increase of local agricultural production and food availability in the provinces of Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus. This support will also be accompanied by an extensive training program, integrating several local institutions under the leadership of several Cuban research institutes including the Institute of Tropical Fruit Growing Institute (IIFT), the Institute of Tropical Tubers (INIVIT) and the Institute of Pastures and Forages (IIPF). This project is funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The project also derives some funding from the Agrocadenas project and is part of the Strategic Support for Sustainable Food Security in Cuba (SAS-Cuba) program, which is an agreement between the European Union and the Cuban Government.
 
La defensa biológica de la agricultura, más importante que nunca
"The biological defense of agriculture, more important than ever"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Julio Martínez Molina, Granma, June 2nd, 2020
Recently, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, urged farmers to make use of biopesticides produced by the Reproductive Centers of Entomophages and Entomopathogens (CREE) located throughout the island. Biopesticides make use of entomophages, which are organisms that control pest and disease outbreaks through natural, ecological means. Trichogramma, for example, is a small wasp that parasitizes the eggs of various harmful insects in grasses, vegetables, and tobacco. Entomopathogenic fungi, especially bauveria bassiana, metarhizium anisopliae, trichoderma spp, and others, are used to combat pests in several different crops. Currently, there are 200 CREE laboratories in Cuba engaged in the production of biopesticides, which in addition to protecting crops against pests and diseases also save millions of dollars as a substitute for synthetic pesticides.
 
Proyecto Local en Jesús Menéndez Fomenta la cria de cabras
"Local project in Jesús Menéndez encourages goat farming"
*Article posted in Spanish
Visión Tunera, June 2nd, 2020
On their farm La Aurora in the municipality of Jesús Menéndez, a pair of young farmers, Dienise Alvarez and Josean Cabrerra, raise goats as part of their participation in a local project to boost regional agricultural production. Through this project, which is facilitated by the Central Municipal University of Las Tunas, the farmers receive technical training, tools, and resources as part of efforts to promote goat farming among producers in the region. With relatively few inputs, goats can provide milk, meat, and other resources to farming families, contributing to improved food security and sustainable agriculture on the farm and in the province of Las Tunas, overall. 
 
Agencia japonesa dona equipos a Cuba para producción agrícola
"Japanese agency donates equipment to Cuba for agricultural production"
*Article posted in Spanish
Cuba Sí, June 4th, 2020
The International Cooperation Agency of Japan (JICA) recently donated agricultural equipment to Cuba with the aim of increasing food production on the island, particularly rice. According to the Cuban Embassy in Tokyo, the action comes in response to an agreement signed in 2017 between Cuba with JICA. According to an embassy spokesperson, the delivery of equipment is valued at $10 million and will be completed before the end of the first half of this year.
 
Continúa protección del medio ambiente en Artemisa
"Environmental protection continues in Artemis"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Wendy García Marquetti, Agencia de Cubana Noticias, June 5th, 2020
Despite the limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) in the province of Artemisa is continuing with the implementation of various environmental protection projects. According to Orlando Díaz Daria, provincial director of the agency, efforts to reforest mangroves through the Mangrove Live project has completed its work on the southern coast and will soon expand these efforts to the northern coast of the province. Other initiatives, including the Connecting Landscapes project, which is dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity, and the Project of Environmental Bases for Local Food Sustainability (BASAL) are also still underway, albeit in a limited capacity, to conform with current social distancing measures. Additionally, the provincial working group for the implementation of the State Plan for Confronting Climate Change (known as Tarea Vida, or Life Task) continues to hold weekly meetings in preparation for the work that will re-commence once the quarantine is complete. 
  
Covid-19 y seguridad alimentaria: perspectivas cubanas
"Covid-19 and food security: Cuban perspectives"
*Article posted in Spanish
Agencia Italiana de Cooperación para el Desarollo June 5th, 2020
As part of the strategic plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Cuba, the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) is applying a series of emergency measures to ensure domestic agricultural production by paying special attention to municipal self-sufficiency. According to the rationale behind these efforts, the cheapest and most effective way to shore up the food system is to consume food in the same places where it is produced. Doing so shortens supply chains and reduces the risk of food waste while also minimizing the fuel expenditures needed to transport goods. This strategy of localized production is also advantageous under current conditions because it does not require the importation or massive use of pesticides or fertilizers. It also allows communities and producers to make use of unproductive, unused or underused spaces and, in addition, guarantees the employment of a large number of workers, including women and youth. All this makes it a realistic and sustainable alternative to contribute to the food and nutritional sovereignty of the population in an unprecedented situation.
 
The pandemic, the environment and Cuba
By: Armando Fernández Soriano, OnCuba, June 6th, 2020
In addition to the global health emergency caused by COVID-19, the pandemic has highlighted the unsustainability of the capitalist system worldwide, calling into question the paradigm of unlimited growth and the culture of consumerism. But even as we begin to imagine what a post-pandemic world might look like, the country of Cuba is faced with its own set of problems as well as its own history of alternative solutions to guide them. As a developing nation that still suffers from the US-imposed embargo, Cuba has a number of challenges related to poor financing, high-debt, energy dependence, and a deteriorating economy. At the same time, Cuba has a number of areas of great potential, in particular in regard to its environment and agricultural sectors. To meet the current challenges, Cuba must remove the obstacles to agricultural production and continue advancing towards a food system with low energy inputs, rational use of water, and sustainable management of soil and crops. By redirecting money from the tourist sector to agriculture and by promoting citizen participation, Cuba can begin to consolidate systems that currently exist while also transforming those that are inefficient.
 
Finca Marta: Proyecto Agroecológico que Ama y Funda
"Farm Marta: Agroecologicial Project that I founded and love"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Fernando R. Funes Monzote, Red en Defensa de la Humanidad, June 8th, 2020
In the early 1990s, the Cuban Movement for Organic Agriculture and Agroecology was created, contributing to a more socially just, equitable, and environmentally respectful agriculture. Almost nine years ago  "Finca Marta" Family Agroecological Project was started with the hope of contributing to these efforts. Today Finca Marta advises at least ten other farms in the region and intends to launch a project to create a Sustainable Agrarian Community, forming a network of between 50-100 farms commented to agroecological principles. Those at Finca Marta view agroecology not only as a way to create biodiverse farming systems, but also as a pathway to creating better people and ways of life.

With pristine reefs at stake, Cuba bets on coral nurseries
By: Nelson Acosta & Sarah Marsh, Reuters, June 9th, 2020
For the past several decades, Cuba’s corals have been somewhat shielded by the relative underdevelopment of its coastline, lower use of fertilizer, and the establishment of protected areas covering a quarter of all insular waters. Despite these advantages, Cuba's corals are not protected from one of its top threats: bleaching, which occurs when the water is too warm, forcing coral to expel living algae and causing it to calcify and turn white. Scientists believe climate change is the underlying cause. To save its reefs, Cuba has begun to design several coral nurseries to help repopulate bleached areas and make them more resilient in the face of global threats to coral-like warming waters, over-fishing, and illness. The nursery was created three years ago through a landmark collaboration between the Cuban and Florida aquaria during a short-lived Cuba-U.S. detente, since rolled back by U.S. President Donald Trump. “Cuba is like a living lab of resilient coral reefs, of the kind that have long disappeared from Florida,” said Dan Whittle, who heads the Caribbean program at Environmental Defense Fund.
See also:
Siembra de corales en Guanahacabibes ayuda a recuperar esos ecosistemas
"Coral planting in Guanahacabibes helps to recover these ecosystems"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Evelyn Corbillón Díaz, Guerrillero, June 10th, 2020

Cuba’s clean rivers show the benefits of reducing nutrient pollution
By: Paul Bierman & Amanda H. Schmidt, The Conversation, June 10th, 2020
For most of the past 60 years, the United States and Cuba have had very limited diplomatic ties. Despite this, scientific cooperation has been a bright light in this otherwise difficult history. Recent scientific collaborations between US and Cuban geoscientists have helped to understand the environmental and water quality effects of progressive agricultural policies in Cuba. In a recently published study, researchers demonstrate that Cuban rivers are cleaner than the Mississippi. Why? Because Cuban farmers practice organic farming and conservation agriculture to reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss. Cuba’s rivers do contain other pollutants, such as bacteria and sediment as well as naturally high levels of calcium, sodium and magnesium, but in general, it seems that Cuba is surpassing the U.S. efforts to keep agriculture from polluting its rivers, and its results offer useful lessons.
 
Jobabo: Experimentos de PIAL para mejorar la agricultura
"Jobabo: PIAL experiments to improve agriculture"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Yaidel M. Rodríguez Castro, Radio Cabaniguán, June 10th, 2020
 One of the main priorities of the Local Agricultural Innovation Project (or PIAL, by its Spanish acronym) is to identify and experiment with beneficial seed and crop varieties which offer drought, pest and disease resistance and which generate significant returns in terms of yields. As part of this project, the PIAL program offers training in agroecology to local farmers and cooperatives in order to promote more effective agricultural methods and management. In the municipality of Jobabo, in Las Tunas province, five farms have recently been integrated into the PIAL program. The goal of working with these farms, in addition to conducting experiments and training, is also to glean knowledge and experience from local producers whose work with the land can help to inform agricultural development in the area, particularly in regards to managing local soil varieties and reducing dependence on external inputs. 

Aplicación de las ciencias, elemental para el desarrollo agropecuario
"Application of science, elementary for agricultural development"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Yenima Díaz Velázquez, Tiempo21, June 10th, 2020
In addition to its contributions towards improving food production, the recent work of the territorial delegation of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) in the province of Las Tunas has been focused on aspects of scientific and technological innovation in the agricultural sector. Such work is of particular importance in Las Tunas as the province is facing a reduction in average rainfall in recent years, which, in addition to the poor quality of local soils, has inhibited efforts to boost agricultural production. Recent research by the territorial delegation has pointed to the need to achieve productive linkages between different sectors of the agricultural economy which would have beneficial effects on both food production and the environment. This work also indicates that increasing the use of crop residues such as organic fertilizers and the planting of living fences can help to improve soil quality and moisture absorption. 
 
¿Cómo integrar los riesgos de la COVID-19 a las medidas de protección de la temporada ciclónica?
"How to integrate the risks of COVID-19 to the protection measures of the cyclone season?"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Abel Reyes Montero, Granma, June 11th, 2020
With the goal of adapting its strategic plan for the current hurricane season amidst the complex epidemiological situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Civil Defense (EMNDC) and Ministry of Public Health in Cuba have issued a new set of emergency guidelines to direct disaster response and reduce civilian risk. The plan aims to ensure vital services including safe water, food safety, energy, and communications, while also maintaining necessary social distancing protocols and public sanitation protocols. Additionally, the plan specifically addresses the need to assure the continuity of medical assistance in health centers and the availability of medical transport, supplies, and diagnostic tools.

La juventud cubana está dando una prueba infinita de valor
"Cuban youth is giving infinite proof of courage"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Luis Raúl Vázquez Muñoz, Juventud Rebelde, June 11th, 2020
The First Secretary of the National Committee of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), Diosvany Acosta Abrahantes, recognized the role of Cuban youth in confronting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Abrahantes, Cuban youth have made great efforts to ensure internal order, maintain scientific research and care for coronavirus patients and elderly people in this time of need. Recently, along with almost 300 other youth volunteers, Abrahantes participated in voluntary farm work to help boost the availability of food for local consumption. The work, which entailed the cleaning of fields of cassava, generated more than $134,000 of food for distribution throughout the country. "If we look at all the places where the crucial actions against the pandemic have been, we will be able to find young faces there," Abrahantes said, adding: "Today the Cuban youth are giving infinite proof of courage and sensitivity."

Invierte provincia de Cuba para asegurar exportación de camarón
"Cuba province invests to ensure shrimp exports"
*Article posted in Spanish
ProCuba, June 12th, 2020
The Cultisur Business Unit in the province of Camagüey is currently planning an investment program to ensure the export of seafood from the island country despite the current global pandemic. Cultisur generates about 30% of Cuba's national seafood exports with a particular focus on countries in Europe and Asia. Located in the municipality of Santa Cruz del Sur, about 620 kilometers southeast of Havana, the company intends to invest in 10 hectares of shrimp farming in addition to other planned upgrades valued at approximately 889 thousand Cuban pesos. Included in the investment are a number of scientific projects to be carried out in coordination with the University of Camagüey. By the end of 2020, Cultisur expects to produce some 1,785 tons of shrimp for export. 
 
Aprueban norma contable para registrar gastos e ingresos ambientales
"Accounting standard approved to record environmental expenses and income"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Lino Luben Pérez, Agencia Cubana de Noticias, June 12th, 2020
Cuba continues to advance in the conservation and preservation of the natural environment with the adoption of a new accounting standard that will allow the registration of environmental expenses and income, including those related to biodiversity. This latest development is the result of Cuba's work with the first phase of the Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN), a global alliance managed by the UN Development Program (UNDP). The BIOFIN initiative aims to work with its member countries, some 36 currently, to implement a methodology for the financing of biodiversity, including both living organisms and ecosystems, with the understanding that healthy environments are essential for clean air, food security, and drinking water. Cuba joined BIOFIN in 2016, a time period that also coincided with the implementation of the country's 2030 National Plan for Economic and Social Development which also aims to redress a number of environmental issues. 
 
La moda de jaboncillo
"Soap fashion"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Diana Rodríguez-Cala, CubaVision Internacional, June 12th, 2020
In keeping with the “ecological” fashion trend that spreads throughout the Global North, companies such as Ecozone, NaturOli, Shep's, and the Greenwill sell a number of “eco-friendly” soap alternatives. One product that has become very popular among consumers in the Global North who are trying to reduce their ecological footprint comes from trees in the Sapindus genus, particularly Sapindus saponaria. In Cuba, Sapindus saponaria is known as jaboncillo. The tree grows widely in coastal cities and towns throughout the country and was traditionally used not only as a detergent, but also as a medicinal tree to treat fever and kidney problems and was an ingredient in pru, a traditional beverage from the Eastern provinces. Ironically, despite this traditional use of jaboncillo, Cuba is currently faced with a shortage of cleaning products in part as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many believe that exploring the use of jaboncillo on a larger scale represents a unique solution to this paradox.

Ecosistemas costeros, una mirada retrospectiva y de futuro
"Coastal ecosystems, a retrospective and future look"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Enrique Atiénzar Rivero, CubaDebate, June 14th, 2020
Despite the challenges of climate change and other environmental threats to beaches in Cuba, there is reason to believe that these coastal ecosystems will survive, according to Rebeca González López del Castillo, a researcher with the Camagüey Environmental Research Center (CIMAC). To Rebeca, there are several key actions necessary to ensure this survival: 1) Carry out beach rehabilitation and maintenance projects, 2) Conduct sound evaluations of economic activity and impacts, 3) Evaluate environmental costs and benefits, and 4) Develop models for sustainable tourism. To ensure the survival of beach ecosystems in Cuba, says Rebeca, it is also necessary to make the nation's development plan, called Tarea Vida (Life Task) is a permanent commitment. Several tasks within the Tarea Vida framework, particularly task three and nine, directly address coastal conservation. 
  
Alternativas del arroz ante déficit de fertilizantes químicos
"Rice alternatives to chemical fertilizer deficit"
*Article posted in Spanish
Trabajadores, June 17th, 2020
Using a number of biological alternatives and organic fertilizers, including laibono, codafol and bayfolán, the Máximo Gómez Agroindustrial Grain Company from the province of Ciego de Ávila is able to address the lack of nitrogen in their soils in order to produce rice, a crop in great demand in Cuba. To date, 270 peasants associated with the grain company have sown some 1,549 hectares of rice during the spring campaign. Ciego de Ávila has been one of the sites of recent investments in boosting domestic rice production, including a collaboration between Cuban producers and Vietnamese technical advisers. Additionally, a new grain drying facility is currently under construction in the province. When complete, it will have three silos of 500 tons each and a daily drying capacity of 37 tons. It will join the Raúl Cervantes Base Mill Drying Unit, in operation since 2019, in serving the rice producers of the province. 
 
Agroforestales tuneros, arrimados a buen árbol
"Agroforestry from Las Tunas, close to a good tree"
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Luz Marina Reyes Caballero, Periódico 26, June 17th, 2020
Despite the current crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in Cuba, agroforestry companies such as the Agroforestry Company of Las Tunas (EAF) in the town of Jababo have not stopped their work, but rather continue in their efforts to produce charcoal as well as re-seed the plantations from which wood is produced and harvested. By the end of May, the export of charcoal had reached nearly 1,366 tons, exceeding expectations of only 1,331 tons. Additionally, to date, some 449.3 hectares of land has been sown with new trees. Accompanying these latest numbers is the announcement of further investment in Las Tunas in the form of a new bio-electric plant that will work with the EAF to convert biomass to energy.  Jababo and several other surrounding communities will also benefit from a new climate resilience project, designed in coordination with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which aims to improve food and nutritional security and increase the stability of local food production systems.
 
Cuba muestra resultados en programa contra la desertificación y la sequía
“Cuba Shows Results of Program Against Desertification and Drought” 
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Redacción Digital, Grandma, Date: June 17, 2020
The 2020 National Action Program to Combat Desertification and Drought in Cuba (known as OP15) celebrates its twelve years of existence. Working across various regions of the country, the program has cleaned water canals, improved irrigation systems, enhanced biodiversity, and established an early warning system for drought. According to the environmental agency (AMA), the “global panorama generated by the SARSCoV 2 virus pandemic and the international health crisis, calls us to pay greater attention to the multiple threats that frequently interact with ecosystems and life”. 
 
Cuba entre los 10 países más protectores del Medio Ambiente
“Cuba Amongst the 10 most Environmentally Protective Countries”
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Elier Tamayo Garcia, CITMA, June 19, 2020 
According to Yale University, Cuba is one of the ten countries that has made the greatest efforts to protect the environment. This study is based on nations’ active work to reduce carbon emissions, in which Iceland leads the way, followed by Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Norway, Mauritius, France, Austria, Cuba, and Colombia. For the first time in fifty years, a group of multidisciplinary scientists from the United States and Cuba worked collaboratively to publish a study, in which they quantified the impact of chemical waste on water quality and its effects on the country's agricultural systems. The study was published by the Geological Society of America and concludes that low levels of nutrient contamination found in twenty-five Cuban rivers suggests the benefits of conservation agriculture. 
  
Actores, desafíos y soberanía alimentaria y nutricional
“Actors, Challenges, and Food & Nutritional Sovereignty” 
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Jorge Núñez Jover, Cuba Debate,  June 22, 2020 
The crisis stemming from  COVID19  has brought to light the importance of creating transdisciplinary work environments that bring together a diverse group of public entities, in order to confront the nation's challenges. Author Jorge Núnez Jover points out that Cuba is far from being able to produce the quantity of products necessary to feed its people, a key factor in achieving food sovereignty. In order to confront this challenge, it is vital to mobilize various institutions, ministries, and numerous disciplinary fields. According to Jover problems within Cuba’s agricultural system are not solely linked to technical ecological issues, but to a large extent are rooted in socio-economic and organizational problems, often correlated to the effectiveness of companies, the autonomy of cooperatives, incentives, distribution of resources, marketing, and much more. President of the republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez concluded that working hand in hand with the nation’s innovative farmers is key in achieving food sovereignty, while simultaneously strengthening efforts between science and the government. 
 
¿Producir todos los alimentos que necesitamos con la misma economía, las mismas estructuras y haciendo lo mismo? (II) Ser o No Ser
“Producing all the Food we Need with the Same Economy, the Same Structures, and Doing the Same Thing? To be or not to be” 
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Luis A. Montero Cabrera, Giraldo Martín Martín, Cuba Debate, June 22, 2020 
Luis A. Montero Cabrera and Giraldo Martín Martín analyze an array of contradictions within Cuba’s agricultural sector. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Cuba has 6,300,000 hectares of arable land, in which state-owned companies and former UBPCs manage around 54%. However, they only produce around 20% of what is marketed to supply the Cuban population. Private producers with 38% of the land produce almost 80% of Cuba’s food. State companies are currently responsible for supplying resources allocated through certain national “technology packages” to small private farmers. These resources rarely reach the farmers at the right time and with sufficient quantities. The authors call for a more integrated management of the economy, honoring that “the system of exploitation is capitalism, not its tools”. 
 
Rostros femeninos de la agricultura sostenible en Las Tunas
Female Faces of Sustainable Agriculture in Las Tunas 
*Article posted in Spanish
By: Liliana Gómez Ramos, Tiempo 21, June 22, 2020
Martha Orcell Adeis, director of the CCS Gonzalo Falcón of the municipality of Manatí, points out that several decades have passed since Cuba fought for agrarian reform and that today the country faces new challenges. Challenges that are deeply linked to the need to feed the populace under a rapidly changing environment. In Las Tunas average rainfall decreased from 1,126 millimeters per year to 1,038 millimeters and the trend is to continue decreasing. Women across the region are leading a movement for agroecological land stewardship, promoting a relationship of reciprocity with the land they cherish. The seed conservation chamber tended by Georgina Martínez Turruelles is the first of its kind in the region and a source of great pride, it has proven to be a valuable source of economic wealth and also has helped to promote food sovereignty in the region. 

 
CUSAN is an initiative coordinated by the Vermont Caribbean 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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