nearly half-century-long U.S. embargo of Cuba has restricted
only U.S. food imports to the island nation, but also the availability
to Cuba's farmers of modern agricultural tools, from new farm
equipment to chemicals for pest control and fertilization.
necessity of having to produce enough to feed their own people has
resulted in innovations in biologically intensive and organic techniques
in Cuban agriculture.
According to Chris Feise, director of WSU's Center for Sustaining
Agriculture and Natural Resources, that has made Cuba something
of a Mecca for those interested in successful sustainable agriculture.
really has something to offer us in terms of sustainable agriculture,'
he said. 'For example, the Cubans are very sophisticated in biological
pest control and we'd like to explore replicating their techniques.'
Feise was one of nine WSU faculty members to visit Cuba in May to
learn and share information about sustainable agriculture. Another
eight people from Washington State were a part of the delegation,
including federal, state, farmer and private industry representatives.
is one of 200 plus farmers' markets developed in Cuba during
the last decade. Prices at some are regulated by the state
after monthly meetings with growers. Other markets operate
on supply and demand.
The 'Jewel' is a small, self-sustaining family farm in San Jose, Cuba. Since 1996, the family has transformed an abandoned 4/5-acre parcel into a home with a greenhouse and crops including vegetables, medicinal plants, roots, tubers, bees, cayenne pepper, hibiscus, guava, starfruit, papaya and banana.
delegates participated in a seven-day agricultural tour that included
visits to farms, farmers markets and research facilities, as well
as lectures and discussions on Cuban agriculture. Most delegates
stayed an additional week to participate in the Fifth Annual International
Organic Conference that attracted representatives from 30 nations.
Feise and other CSANR delegates met with representatives of two
major Cuban agricultural institutes to discuss mutual interests
and brainstorm ideas for a collaborative relationship.
outcome was the signing of two letters of intent to work together
on projects of mutual interest, one with the Cuban Ministry
Agriculture's Institute of Soils and one with the Agricultural
University of Havana.
The agreements call for sharing information, developing mutually
beneficial projects and hopefully establishing exchange opportunities
for students and faculty.
Upon his return, Feise immediately sought and received the blessing
of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics and Cooperative
Extension to pursue the collaborative relationships.