By Raysa Mestril Gutiérrez
Nine months after the Suburban Agriculture Program began in the outskirts of Camaguey city, some 530 kilometers east of Havana, a change in the areas devoted to the food production is evident.
More than 6 700 hectares of idle lands were handed over to persons who wanted to collect their own harvests, and today new farms bound to mix-crop and animal husbandry emerge.
There are more than 400 persons who are working in the areas surrounding Cuba’s third largest city, among them new tenant farmers and others who received the land as an enlargement of their plots. In short, they should accomplish the goal of the Suburban Agriculture Program which is bringing closer to large human settlements the production of food and ensure the road haulage -using their own means - of their products to market places and stands.
Although the project encompasses approximately 1 400 farms up to 2015, it is foreseen to add the rest of them once they reach the condition of ´lista´ (ready); therefore, nine parameters that define their inclusion in the program should be taken into consideration.
For reaching such a goal, 84 irrigation systems are being set up to cover each hectare dedicated to the production of root vegetable and other produces, plus other five devoted to fatten bulls, aside from other plans boosted by the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP).
Camaguey’s branch office of the National Research Institute of Tropical Root Vegetables (INIVIT) has provided different types of seeds, a supply that made possible to sow more than 2 000 hectares of root vegetables, fruit trees, vegetables and grains by the end of 2009. Likewise, those who joined the urban agriculture movement produced more than 2 800 tons of such foods.
The sowing of crops to feed the livestock also increases in those farms and contracts for the sale of some 5 000 pigs and the delivery of some 430 tons of meat were also inked.
The Suburban Agriculture Program also includes the classification of soils, and in this sense local specialists have already defined 15 subtypes of them within the area subjected to this program. Six farms are already a reference in the application of suitable practices for the handling and conservation of soils.
Representatives hailing from other provinces of the island nation have applauded the use of different agricultural implements and of animal drawn carts and devices.
In Camagüey, this new form of agricultural development, of which the territory is an example in Cuba, is wide-raging and ambitious. However it is necessary that those committed with the program give it a boost in the following months in order to produce more food for the people and with better levels of efficiency. (Translated by Gualveris Rosales Sanchez/Radio Cadena Agramonte)