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Through greater effort, especially by carrying out actions for high productive yields, Cuban farmers are now boosting their contributions to food and the replacement of imports.

Replacing imports and developing crops and production to create new exports are two key ways that this sector supports the island's economy.

As discussed in the 10th Congress of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), which has just concluded, farming cooperatives are helping to meet those goals with more milk, corn and meat, among others.

A large part of nearly 40 agreements adopted by the congress commission on production and economy are closely targeted at importing less and promoting exports based on more efficient production.

Increasing yields for rice, beans, corn, milk, meat, coffee and other crops, as well as developing a national base of animal feed, is the most efficient way to save almost 800 million dollars in imports.

At the close of the event, whose final session was presided over by Cuban President Raúl Castro, ways of replacing that spending were laid out by Mario Murillo, vice president of the Council of Ministers and minister of the economy.

One example is a program for planting no less than 100,000 hectares of corn. This goal takes into account the favorable conditions for that crop in the country, mainly in the spring, and the convenience of rotating with other crops such as sugar cane and tobacco.

Other agreements approved by the aforementioned commission were related to the cultivation of soy by both cooperatives and private farmers, who have great potential for promoting that legume, valuable for animal feed because of its high protein content.

The objective is to carry out a long-range project devoted mainly to animal consumption.

Individual farmers are the most productive force today in Cuban agriculture, holding 60 percent of the nation's cattle and contributing 70 percent of foodstuffs produced.

Traditionally, especially in the 1980s, the country used large volumes of chemical fertilizers supplied by the former Soviet Union and other socialist Eastern European countries.

Chemical manure and chemical pesticides, to a large extent incompatible with the environment and with prices that have continued to rise on the international market, will be replaced by environmentally-friendly organic products and bio-pesticides.

Therefore, it is no coincidence that one of the guidelines issued bythe congress is, precisely, giving top priority to a program for developing natural fertilizers (bio-fertilizers).

Along with that, joint work is to be carried out with the Ministry of Basic Industry for a comprehensive project aimed at increasing production and using fertilizers in the country is to be carried out.

Along the same lines, farmers called for more commitment to collecting harvested products, their surpluses and non-contracted production, to develop small food processing industries, something in which they are highly experienced.

Some jams and other canned products are imported which could be made in Cuba and even exported.

Likewise, according to positive results in pork production, and the high costs in hard currency of importing feed for that line, the congress decided that growth in this line should be achieved without further imports.

In that respect, it is essential to continue developing agreements with producers in that field, instead of increasing sales of imported food.

Plus, in view of the favorable prospects for the pork production program, it was agreed take those experiences to various lines of minor livestock.

Cuba has two types of farming cooperatives, known as agricultural production coops and credit and services coops, and this movement has the goal of producing 100,000 tons or more of pork meat for sale to the state.

Similar types of friendly competitions exist among rice, milk and other farmers, to contribute to national food security and the substitution of imports.

By Roberto Salomón
Source: Prensa Latina

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