José Gómez is one of the biggest food producers in Cienfuegos farming sector. In his vast experience in these labors this farmer assures the food self supply is possible in Cuba if the bureaucratic and commercializing barriers are eliminated in this sector.
We went to his farm, located outside Cienfuegos city in a zone called Junco Viejo (Old Reed). While he confirms the fertility of his lands, he struggles to get out a yucca root. But he cannot do it by himself. “This one has a bonus”, he says and asks for help to another farmer. Between the two of them, using a lot of effort and technique, since “… to get the yucca out of the ground without breaking it you must have a lot of farming skills…” they make it.
“Didn´t I tell you these lands are good?” and of course we are convinced about it. Yucca roots are known in Cuba as cangre and this one must weight over 20 pounds. Wow!
From his work this farmer gets every day the fruit and the certainty that Cuba can produce enough food to live. However, to make it possible “we must overcome deficiencies, mainly in organization,” assures the biggest food producer in Cooperative Unit, linked to suburban agriculture in Cienfuegos city.
“We face problems at the time of commercializing our products; sometimes we lack recipients, and when we have them we lack transportation means”, states from his experience for over 20 years in these labors. “I think there must be a way for the farmer to sell his own productions” and he recalls the case of his Cooperative Unit. “Our Cooperative Unit was assigned two state markets and when they do not have any requests the products are sent back to us and if the Stock Unit does not want them either then there is nothing to do with them”.
He still has a big amount of garlic from his last harvest that was contracted by the Stock Unit and he lost them anyway. The Stock Unit is the entity in charge of commercializing and distributing the farming productions in the country.
But these barriers do not limit his work. Over 70% of what is produced today in his Cooperative Unit comes from his farm; about 36 000 liters of milk for direct sale in the community cellar and from 4 tons of products every year.
In his farm, which we walked through at his request, crop interspersion outstands. In his records he shows levels of 750 kgs per hectare, which he reached in his plantation of papaya combined with guava.
Now, he intersperses this crop with corn, constantly experimenting in seeking for new production results. This is practical application of Science! Crop interspersion began being applied nationally since the beginning of the Urban Agriculture Program several years ago.
“My formula- he states in a serious tone- is first of all making the most out of the land”.
And it can be easily seen how effective this formula can be, starting from deep knowledge and the commitment of producing, optimizing lands and resources that the government placed in his hands.