Cuba: Going organic provides food security
It was raining so heavily this past June when we were visiting Las Tunas province in Cuba that it was hard to imagine that local communities had been so severely hit by drought in recent years. In the municipality of Manatí, where Oxfam is supporting the work of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) to improve food security, all crops were lost and wells dried out to the point that water had to be brought in by train from other places.
With Oxfam’s support, ANAP has invested in the production of organic fertilizers and solar panel driven water pumps that provide irrigation for vegetable gardens and water for animal husbandry. As a result the cooperatives are now producing “what the people need to eat” as explained by one of the farmers. Fruits, fresh vegetables, meat and other products are available in local markets and food security has much improved.
Milagros, the only woman president of a cooperative in the area was particularly proud to report that her cooperative “Sabino Pupo” is now successfully engaged in raising cows contributing to the municipality becoming self-sufficient in the production of fresh milk. “While the cooperative has always had access to land, the project has brought much needed resources and training to make it productive.”
Sustainable organic farming practices like the ones implemented in Manatí have not only brought increased food security to communities as a whole, they have also created increased training and work opportunities for women as small farmers. In Milagros’ cooperative almost half of the work force is women. Oxfam continues to support ANAP to inform women about the benefits of joining cooperatives, to ensure they have access to technical training and to facilitate their advancement as leaders and decision-makers in the organization.