Cuba shares agricultural techniques with Fiji and Solomon Islands

Dec 28, 2016

Photo: UNDP Cuba

Farmers from Fiji and the Solomon Islands traveled to Cuba to learn innovative farming techniques to promote and secure food security and environmental protection in their countries.

Through the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), four farmers from Fiji and the Solomon Islands traveled to Cuba in early 2015 to learn about organic and urban agriculture practices.

The initiative was supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community of the European Union, the Higher School of Urban and Suburban Agriculture and the ‘Alejandro de Humboldt’ Tropical Agriculture Fundamental Research Institute (INIFAT) of the Ministry of Agriculture in Cuba, and the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETcom).

The Small Grants Program selected active farmers working on sustainable planting practices from the Tei Tei Taveuni (TTT) farmers organization in Fij and Zai na Tina Organic Demonstration and Research farms in the Solomon Islands (ZNT).

For a week, the farmers from the Pacific participated in conferences and visited five Cuban agricultural cooperatives which are successfully implementing organic and urban agricultural practices. Under the technical direction of professors and researchers from INIFAT, the representatives addressed issues related to the production of organic fertilizers with the use of crop and excreta residues (vermiculture and composting), local seed production and their conservation; production of seedlings, agroecological management of pests and diseases, use of semi-protected systems in agriculture, polyculture and intercalation of plant species.

"Cuban organic farmers left me captivated and amazed by their simple techniques in agriculture. The Cuban way of doing things is to use what is available and that concept is what we are taking home,” said Kevin Petersen, member of the farmers organization TTT.

The visit also included a tour to Viñales Valley National Park, where the SGP and UNDP in Cuba support a project on agro-ecological practices in a protected area, and the development of an ecotourism route managed by local families.

Representatives from the Pacific learned how to obtain high-quality products in large volumes through organic agriculture and tackle pests and diseases through an ecosystem approach.

As part of this South-South Cooperation, a Cuban technician traveled to Fiji and the Solomon Islands to develop two demonstration farms to extend the experience to local farmers. Both farms have begun to develop composting of worms. A long-term exchange is envisaged as beneficiary organizations develop more pilot activities and tailor technologies to their specific needs.

"The Pacific faces enormous challenges in terms of food security with increased land degradation due to poor agricultural practices and chemicals. And the situation is aggravated by climate change," said Karen Mapusua, Coordinator of POETCom.

In 2016, this project received the first prize in the South-South Cooperation (SSC) for Sustainable Development Award “S3 Award”, organized by UNDP. Cuba’s cooperation initiative was one of the four winners of the contest, in which 33 projects from 19 Latin American countries participated. The award aimed to show and recognize best practices in SSC from the region in order to promote more and better initiatives.

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