Agriculture and cultivating rice in Cuba


Agriculture and cultivating rice in Cuba

The map of Cuba

Vietnamese farming model replicated in Cuba

Introduction to Cuban Country and People

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is an island country in the Caribbean. Cuba is an archipelago of islands located in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It lies between latitudes 19° and 24°N, and longitudes 74° and 85°W. To the north of Cuba lies the United States (140 km or 90 mi away) and the BahamasMexico is to the west, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
Cuba is the principal island, surrounded by four smaller groups of islands: the Colorados Archipelago on the northwestern coast, the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago on the north-central Atlantic coast, the Jardines de la Reina on the south-central coast and the Canarreos Archipelago on the southwestern coast.
The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city.
The main island is 1,199 km (745 mi) long, constituting most of the nation's land area (105,006 km2 (40,543 sq mi)) and is the largest island in the Caribbean and 16th-largest island in the world by land area. The main island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains apart from the Sierra Maestra mountains in the southeast, whose highest point is Pico Turquino (1,975 m (6,480 ft)). The second-largest island is Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the Canarreos archipelago, with an area of 3,056 km2 (1,180 sq mi). Cuba has a total land area of 110,860 km2 (42,803 sq mi).
The local climate is tropical, moderated by northeasterly trade winds that blow year-round. In general (with local variations), there is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. The average temperature is 21 °C (69.8 °F) in January and 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. The warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea and the fact that Cuba sits across the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico combine to make the country prone to frequent hurricanes. These are most common in September and October.
Cuba is home to over 11 million people and is the most populous island nation in the Caribbean, as well as the largest by area. Its people, culture, and customs draw from diverse sources, such as the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves and its proximity to the United States.
The main data about Cuba:
Capital (and largest city): Havana (23°8′N 82°23′W).
Official language(s): Spanish.
Ethnic groups: 65.1% White, 10.1% African, 24.8% Mulatto and Mestizo.
Demonym: Cuban.
Government: Unitary republic, Socialist state.
Independence: from Spain/U.S. 
            -Declared: October 10, 1868 from Spain.
            -Republic declared: May 20, 1902 from the United States.
            -Cuban Revolution: January 1, 1959.
-Total: 109,884 km2 (105th) 42,426 sq mi 
- Water (%):negligible
Population (2010 census): 11,241,161;Density: 102.3/km2 (106 th) 265.0/sq mi.
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate: Total: $57.49 billion (68th); Per capita: $9,900 (86th).
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate:Total: $57.49 billion (68th); Per capita: $5,100 (90th)
HDI (2011): increase 0.776 (high) (51st).
Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, an infant death rate lower than some developed countries, and an average life expectancy of 77.64. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF's definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.

Agriculture in Cuba

Agriculture in Cuba has played an important part in the economy for several hundred years. Agriculture contributes less than 10% to the gross domestic product (GDP), but it employs roughly one fifth of the working population. About 30% of the country's land is used for crop cultivation.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban agricultural sector faced a very difficult period. After this period to this, Cuba had to rely on sustainable methods of farming. The agricultural production fell by 54% between 1989 and 1994. The answer of the Cuban government was to strengthen the base of agricultural biodiversity by making a greater range of varieties of seed available to farmers. In the 1990s, the Cuban government prioritized food production and put the focus on small farmers. Already in 1994, the government allowed farmers to sell their surplus production directly to the population. This was the first move to lift the state's monopoly on food distribution. Due to the shortage in artificial fertilizers and pesticides, the Cuban agricultural sector largely turned organic, with the Organopónicos playing a major role in this transition.
The inefficient agricultural industry in Cuba has led to the need to import large amounts of foods. Cuba now imports about 80% of the food it rations to the public.The rationing program accounts for about a third of the food energy the average Cuban consumes. Overall, however, Cuba is dependent on imports for only 16% of its food.
Urban agriculture
Due to the shortage of fuel and therefore severe deficiencies in the transportation sector a growing percentage of the agricultural production takes place in the so-called urban agriculture. In 2002, 35,000 acres (140 km2) of urban gardens produced 3.4 million metric tons of food. Current estimates are as high as 81,000 acres (330 km2). In Havana, 90% of the city's fresh produce come from local urban farms and gardens. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector.
Main Crops
Sugar: Until the 1960s, the USA received 33% of their sugar imports from Cuba. However, the sugar production in the cane sugar mills has fallen from approximately 8 million metric tons to 3.2 million metric tons in the 1990s.
Tobaco: Cuba has the second largest area planted with tobacco of all countries worldwide.Tobacco production in Cuba has remained about the same since the late 1990s. Cigars are a famous Cuban product worldwide and almost the whole production is exported. The center of Cuban tobacco production is the Pinar del Río Province. Tobacco is the third largest source of hard currency for Cuba. The income derived from the cigars is estimated at US$200 million.The two main varieties grown in Cuba are Corojo and Criollo. 85% of the tobacco grown in Cuba is produced by National Association of Small Farmers members.
Rice: Rice plays a major role in the Cuban diet. Rice in Cuba is mostly grown along the western coast. There are two crops per year. The majority of the rice farms are state-farms or belong to co-operatives. Cuba has been a major importer of rice. Recently, the annual rice imports have approached 500 000 tonnes of milled rice.
Citrus: Cuba is the world's third largest producer of grapefruit. Sixty percent of the citrus production are oranges, 36% grapefruit. In the citrus production the first foreign investment in Cuba's agricultural sector took place: In 1991, the participation of an enterprise from Israel in the production and processing of citrus is the Jagüey Grande area, approximately 140 km (90 mi) east of Havana, was officially recognized. The products are mainly marketed in Europe under the brand name Cubanita.
Potato:The per capita consumption of potatoes in Cuba amounts to 25 kg (55 lb) per year. Potatoes are mainly consumed as French fries. The potato production areas (in total 37,000 acres or 150 square kilometres) are concentrated in the Western part of Cuba. The main variety grown in Cuba is the Désirée. Seed potatoes are partly produced locally. Some 40,000 metric tons of seed potatoes are imported annually from New Brunswick, Canada and the Netherlands.
Cassava: Some 260,000 acres (1,100 km2) are planted with cassava. The cassava originates from the Latin American and Caribbean region and is grown in almost every country of the region. Cuba is the second largest producer of cassava in the Caribbean with a production of 300,000 t (2001). However, the yield per hectare is the lowest of all Caribbean countries. Most of Cuba's production is used directly for fresh consumption. Part of the cassava is processed to sorbitol in a plant near Florida, Central Cuba.
Tropical fruits: Plantains and bananas account for over 70% of production with plantain 47% and banana 24% of the local production. Both are only produced for domestic consumption. Other tropical fruits produced in Cuba are mango, papaya, pineapple,  avocado,  guava, coconut, and anonaceae (sugar apple family).
The following table shows value of the top 20 agricultural production in Cuba  2010:

Rank
Commodity
Production (Int $1,000)
Flag
Production (MT)
Flag
1
Sugar cane
343,377
*
11,300,000

2
Indigenous Pigmeat
264,919
*
172,334
Fc
3
Cow milk, whole, fresh
196,442
*
629,500

4
Tomatoes
191,065
*
517,000

5
Indigenous Cattle Meat
171,152
*
63,357
Fc
6
Mangoes, mangosteens, guavas
121,985
*
203,591

7
Rice, paddy
116,851
*
454,400

8
Fruit Fresh Nes
99,739
*
285,758

9
Plantains
97,288
*
485,800

10
Hen eggs, in shell
88,678
*
106,920

11
Vegetables fresh nes
73,954
*
804,453

12
Yams
63,450
*
395,781

13
Bananas
63,160
*
249,200

14
Indigenous Chicken Meat
47,884
*
33,617
F
15
Beans, dry
46,319
*
80,400

16
Papayas
38,512
*
135,700

17
Oranges
34,451
*
178,263

18
Cassava
33,898
*
405,619

19
Tobacco, unmanufactured
32,652
*
20,500

20
Grapefruit (inc. pomelos)
30,951
*
137,660

Note: * Unofficial figure; [ ] Official data; F: FAO estimate; Fc: Calculated data
Source: FAOSTAT | © FAO Statistics Division 2012 | 14 May 2012

Cultivating rice in Cuba

The fact of cultivating rice in Cuba

In history, Cuban food relies a great deal on roots and tubers, such as malanga, potatoes, boniatos, and yucca. Other starchy food includes plantains, bananas, and rice. Some dishes you might recognize are Moros y Cristianos (black beans and rice), lechón asado (slow roasted pork), and pollo en salsa (chicken in sauce).
Today rice plays a major role in the Cuban diet. Rice in Cuba is mostly grown along the western coast. There are two crops per year. The majority of the rice farms are state-farms or belong to co-operatives. Cuba has been a major importer of rice. Recently, the annual rice imports have approached 500 000 tonnes of milled rice. The production of rice is limited due to the shortage of water and similar to other industries in Cuba the lack of fertilizers and modern agricultural technology. The yield per hectare remains lower than the average of Central American and Caribbean countries.
In 2003, Cuba cultivated rice with 204,600 ha, the average yield was 3,498.5 kg/ha, total production of paddy rice was 715,800 tonnes.
Although by the end of 2003, eight provinces in Cuba had reported initiating SRi trials, with an average yield increase of 71%.
A nationwide Urban Agriculture Workshop was held November 21, 2007, in Havana, Cuba, with the aim of promoting SRI within Cuba. It was agreed that two municipalities in each of Cuba’s 14 provinces will initiate trials beginning with the current rice planting season in December, 2007. The 31 workshop participants, who came from across Cuba, included government functionaries, rice specialists and other interested parties from seven of the 14 provinces. 
Even though this adaptation used only some of the SICA principles, the yield advantage was quite significant. The trial plots, laid out with randomized bloc design and with replications, gave average modified SICA yields of 10.4 tons/ha compared with average yields of 4.2 tons/ha for standard farmer practice.
Following a SRI workshop in November 2007, the National Group of Cuban Urban Agriculture held a second workshop during February 2009 to discuss preliminary results and plan future policy with respect to this new methodology. Ing. Salvador Sanchez of the Institute of Rice Investigations, noted that SRI had forever changed Cuban rice culture by:
-reducing the age of seedlings from 35-40 to 12-15 days
-reducing the time employed between pull/transplant from 12-24 hours to 30 minutes, and
-reducing the number of seedlings per hill, from between 3-5 to one.
He also emphasized the saving in seeds and the possibility, in some cases, to triple the yield.
In the Brazilian trial, yield was increased from 3.5 to 8.0 t/ha, while production cost/ha was reduced by 20%. Dr. Pérez also showed on-going sprinkler trials using adapted SRI (SICA) methods with rice in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba.
Cuba's newly-created Agricultural Engineering Research Institute (IAGRIC) coordinated a workshop in Havana, December 12-16, 2011, to consider the crucial situation with respect to water usage for rice on the island since 47% of the total water dedicated to agriculture is consumed by rice production.
But in 2010 Cuba cultivated only 176,423 ha, the yield was 2,575.6 kg/ha and total product tion was 454,400 tonnes (FAOSTAT-2012).

Vietnamese teaching Cubans how to grow rice efficiently

Cuba plans to enlarge to 40,000 hectares a Vietnamese-aided test farm to expand production of rice, official media said.
Given the positive results of the joint project, a new phase is currently being analyzed, according to an Agriculture Ministry official quoted by the state news agency Prensa Latina.
Up to now the program has had “concrete results in the areas of demonstration, consultation and production” the head of the Vietnamese side of the project, Bui Van Duong, said.
Bilateral cooperation in this field was launched in 2002, first in the eastern province of Granma and then was extended to other areas on the island. Vietnam is the chief supplier of rice to Cuba, according to government officials.
Cuba imports over 400.000 tons of rice annually, 60% of the total amount consumed by the island’s population. Rice is an essential ingredient of Cubans daily diet.
Each of Cuba’s 11.2 million residents consumes an average of 11 pounds of rice per month, or more than 60 kilos (130 pounds) a year per person, or roughly 600,000 tons, according to official figures. 
The following shows the area (ha), yield (kg/ha) and total of paddy rice production in Cuba from 1961 to 2010:

Year
*
Area
(ha)

Yield
(kg/ha)

Production (paddy rice)
(tonnes)
1961
150,000

1,379.4
Fc
206,908
1965
38,000
*
1,446.6
Fc
54,970
1970
195,300

1,917.7
Fc
374,523
1975
178,200

2,506.8
Fc
446,710
1980
147,354

3,242.8
Fc
477,834
1985
159,200

3,293.5
Fc
524,320
1990
154,896

3,058.0
Fc
473,673
1995
154,700

2,560.4
Fc
396,100
1996
233,128

2,457.4
Fc
572,900
2000
200,110

2,762.5
Fc
552,800
2001
183,855

3,268.9
Fc
601,000
2002
197,945

3,495.9
Fc
692,000
2003
204,600

3,498.5
Fc
715,800
2004
157,826

3,097.7
Fc
488900
2005
127,197

2,890.0
Fc
367,600
2006
142,829

3,040.0
Fc
434,200
2007
136,099

3,230.0
Fc
439,600
2008
155,514

2,803.6
Fc
436,000
2009
215,751

2,612.3
Fc
563,600
2010
176,423

2,575.6
Fc
454,400
Note: * Unofficial figure; [ ] Official data; F: FAO estimate; Fc: Calculated data
Source: FAOSTAT | © FAO Statistics Division 2012 | 14 May 2012
References

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