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More than 120 Young People Support Agricultural Recovery on Cubas Isla de la Juventud
More than 120 young people from across Cuba have come to the hurricane ravaged Isla de la Juventud to work on the needed agricultural recovery effort.

“We have come here for six months or a year to help re-build the Isla de la Juventud. We have worked in every field: restoring the Arenas Negras (Black Sand) summer camp, preparing the camp that now hosts the people who have come to work here and working in agriculture, which is our main mission,” said Juan Romero Arzuaga, head of the brigade of the Young Communist League (UJC) that support the recovery works on Isla de la Juventud.

The story of these young people, members of the “Fifth Anniversary of the Revolution Youth Brigade,” started at the beginning of September, a few hours after Hurricane Gustav sealed the fate of the Isla de la Juventud with its destructive gusts. The first group of mobilized young people who arrived on the island on September 5, and a larger one almost two weeks later.

This social contact with the smaller island off Cuba’s mainland arose from their desire to be more useful in the face of such devastation. This optimism has also been fed, since the very first day, by Ana Ilsa Delgado, first secretary of the party in this territory. She has met with them several times and recognized their willingness, enthusiasm and the moral and productive value of their actions.

The strategy of agricultural workers on the Isla de la Juventud is to speed up the production of short-cycle crops, said Juan Carlos González, director of the comprehensive company of the agricultural sector.

“We are giving priority to crops such as sweet potatoes (120 days), pumpkins (90-100 days), in addition to cold season crops,” he said.

González said that in on the Isla de la Juventud, hurricanes Gustav and Ike affected almost 1,700 hectares of various crops and caused a lost of five greenhouses and all semi-protected and micro-vegetable gardens. He added that they have already prepared 2,952 hectares – 760 of which have now been planted.

“Currently we are working the land, while the fuel, fertilizers and seeds that will be given to farmers are guaranteed,” González said.

The urban farm movement is giving priority to the planting of watercress, radishes, lettuce and cucumbers —crops that can be harvested in 45 days—; while they work, along with the community grassroots to turn every idle courtyard into a space for producing food.

The recovery of 23 hectares of banana means a lot to Gilberto Simón Hernández, the manager of the La Caoba farm. “I think that with the work we have done, by February we can supply bananas at the markets.”

Raw recruits work mainly cutting sweet potato liana to plant it and clearing banana fields. “At the beginning we had to teach them, but they caught the rhythm and almost work better than us,” he pointed out.

Ricardo Disatuar, general secretary of the Agricultural and Forest Workers Union, said that all members will be officially called to join agricultural recovery work on October 3.

(Juventud Rebelde)

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