Thursday, December 17, 2015

Agroecology Delegation to Cuba – December 2015


Based upon preparatory work done in Bolivia and in the United States, a delegation of sixteen representatives from government and NGOs from those countries traveled to Cuba in December 2015. Over the course of ten days the delegates visited several agroecology research stations (agroponicos), an arboretum and several other destinations.

December 12, 2015

The Aleman Agroponico is about ½ hour east of Habana on about 25 acres of land on the outskirts of Habana. This is the premier research farm in Cuba where agroecology is advanced including biological controls (companion planting, biocides manufacturing, IPM).

We were given the tour by Dr. Fernando Funes and Isabel. Dr. Funes is well known worldwide with many published studies and through numerous speaking tours. Isabel’s father was one of the founders of the farm.
She said they produce about 3.5 million starts annually, with 90 percent of their production being sold to the people in the community with the remainder going to hotels and restaurants. She pointed out the plant borders where sunflowers grew to attract and confuse harmful pests.
They make their own planting mix which consists of three elements 1) soil 2) compost and 3) rice hulls mixture. They use drip irrigation with a magnetic device which changes the properties of the water before it is applied to the plants.
A couple of local women passed us on our walk through the gardens and spoke with Isabel. After some conversation with Isabel these women went on with Isabel then telling us that these women practiced Santeria and had come to the agroponico to obtain soil that has been tilled by oxen which they believe has special properties.

We saw workmen shelling garlic, weeding the field with hoes and pulling sugar cane through a device that stripped off the leaves from the sugar cane stalk.


A machine with Fidel in the background

Dr. Funes showing Joanna Thayer the vermiculture beds

Lovely red loam soil

Rabbits production for meat and manure for vermiculture

Working ox

Workman's area


The beds with newly planted starts

 Moringa, the miracle plant