Cuba: Valuable Natural Resource Calling Out for Help
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 06 / 14 / 2011
2011.06.13 - 18:53:06 / radiorebelde.icrt.cu. Havana, Cuba.- The history of degradation of the soil in many parts of the world is long and difficult. It is of significant importance in Cuba´s case because the island’s economy is eminently agricultural.
The magnitude of the problem can be seen when you learn that, of the 6.6 million hectares of the nation´s cultivable surface, approximately three quarters are affected by some kind of degradation factor.
The specialists have reiterated that the indiscriminate deforestation suffered by Cuba during the past centuries, constitutes a primary and essential cause of the Cuban soil´s weakness manifested through erosion, salinity, low natural fertility, acidity and the drainage deficiency, among others.
It has been calculated that when the Spanish came to Cuba in 1492, the island had close to 90 percent of its territory covered with forests and in 1959 the percentage had been reduced to barely 14 percent.
The deforestation meant that the archipelago lost close to 70 percent of its forests in a little over four and a half centuries.
The progressive development of the population, means of communication and other installations logically affected the rich forests in an almost totally virgin country found by the Spanish, but it is evident that this reduction was excessive.
We must add to the deforestation, the indiscriminate use of machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides in addition to using inappropriate cultivating techniques that eliminated the compacting process of the soils, its contamination and degradation in general by the action of man and natural factors.
Different measure were adopted in recent decades to counter this problem, among them reforestation plans that have increased the amount of forests up to 26 percent of the total surface of the territory, according to a report revealed last April by the 5th Cuban Forest Congress.
This advance has become an important role in recent years of the organization program of over 1 000 forest farms to increase the number of trees and plants on the island.
The use of animal traction has been prioritized as well as organic material and biological substitution, as much as possible, of machinery, fertilizers and industrial pesticides to avoid the compacting and occasion contamination by equipments and chemical products.
Some other measures is the technical training of agricultural workers like farming till, perpendicular cultivation on slopes to avoid erosion and other ways that counter the loss in the quality of the soil and contribute in improving them.
However, the application of the agro ecological techniques cannot be unattended if we consider that Cuba is prioritizing the progressive increase of food production as well as not only stopping the degradation of the land, but also enriching it.
Scientists, agricultural workers and different institutions headed by the National Group in the Fight against
Desertification and Drought and the Ministries of Science, Technology and the Environment, Agriculture and Sugar Industry are working for these common objectives.
The objective of fomenting an economic, ecological and sustainable agriculture is one of humanity´s most precious natural resources that is currently calling out for help. (By Hernán Bosch)