By Raysa Mestril Gutiérrez
We, the people of Camagüey, should be proud that from our land new forms of biofortified rice, beans and sweet potatoes were internationally presented, as a result of researches conducted in several provinces of Cuba, with the collaboration of Agrosur program.
Institutions from Canada and Colombia run and finance this program. Through it, Cuba works to extend the use of seeds and methods of the above mentioned crops throughout the country, and beyond its borders to sibling nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
M.D. Violeta Puldón, the coordinator of this program in Cuba, asserted how the results of the crops show a greater presence of iron, zinc and beta-carotene in the varieties that the country has developed through genetic improvement.
From Camagüey, scientists and farmers of Cuba has exhibited the benefits and characteristics of those crops, highly effective to counteract anaemia, and mainly intended to feed pregnant women and children, as a nutritional option to face the food crisis that scourges the poor and needy around the world.
Local farmers had the privilege of developing a variety of rice called IACUBA-30, achieved at the Cuban Institute of Rice, due to crossbreeding and genetic selection. This variety has been subjected to evaluation by specialists over the last five years at the Experimental Station of Camagüey.
Jesús Limia, director of the centre highlighted that the seed meets the required standards, and nonspecialized farmers can crop this variety for it demands low levels of water and fertilizers.
Annually, some 300 hectares are sown with this variety of rice in the province of Camagüey, explains Limia.
IACUBA-30 has proven to be quite resistant to pests such the Muir, the Hoja Blanca virus (RHBV), the Pyricularia oryzae and others, he adds, and its adaptation is favorable in salty soils, something that has been put to the test in the coastal municipalities of Nuevitas and Santa Cruz del Sur.
The new strain of rice has high levels of iron and zinc, essencial chemicals to counteact anemia, and Camagüey is the province with the most amount of land sown in the island.
In addition, it is praiseworthy the work done by the Experimental Station of Ruta Invasora Agro-Industrial Complex, where other three biofortified strains get evaluated. These other three varieties are suitable for obtaining brown rice.
In the case of the biofortified sweet potato, developed by the INIVIT, its strenght relies on the ß-Carotene it has, for it turns into vitamin A.
Scientific researches confirm that this component can reduce the risk of a heart attack, it functions as liposoluble antioxidant composition and makes our immune system more efficient.
On the other hand, the black bean achieved due to genetic handling at a INIVIT laboratory in Holguin is also rich in iron and zinc, highly nutritious and very suitable for pregnant women and people with anemia.
Achieving these varietes of crops has enabled the Institute for Food Investigation to make all kind of foodstuff like cookies, bread, sponge cake and other sweets. (Translated by Gualveris Rosales Sánchez).