Artemisa, Cuba - Each town has its charm, and Alquízar's treasure is its fertile red ferralitic soils, which give it an outstanding place among the four productive towns in the province. As if that were not enough, during Covid-19 times , when imports decreased and U.S.blockade tightens , farmers from Rubén Martínez Villena hometown know very well how to face this situation.
"Producing more is what the country´s top leaders demand from us ," says Juan Luis García, owner of Las Dolores farm, which belongs to Pedro Rodríguez Santana Credit and Services Cooperative (CCS).
We found him in the furrow , in the middle of taro harvest, with his mask and a big hat to protect himself from the Sun, more intense during these days.
A tour shows the excellent use of the cultivable area: banana fruit ready to harvest, taro that they are already bagging (and they are waiting to distribute in the Stock Trading Unit), garlic, sweet potato ... and they prepare land to plant corn.
A few kilometers away, towards Pulido community, in Frank País CCS , Alberto Blanco checks high production levels of Dos Amigos and Pedroso farms. There is a bit of everything there, including more than 130 pigs in agreement with the Porcine Company; in these times they also make their contribution to Commerce and Gastronomy.
“Cuba is going through a difficult time. We must recover with our productions. The food stability of the people depends on this, ”expresses without hesitation this farmer who is National Vanguard, who understands how much his effort requires.
“We prioritize short cycle crops. We have pumpkin, onio, sweet potatoes, and we finished tomato harvest. In addition, we have banana and taro. "
▪️Just tenacity formula
Although they belong to different cooperatives, Juan Luis and Alberto agree that productive yields were superior if they had the complete formula of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK), necessary fertilizer able to incorporate nutrients into the soil, which favors plants´ proper vegetative development.
"Organic matter is important, but nothing replaces NPK", insists Jorge Luis, who does praise the availability of biological products obtained at Entomophage and Entomopathogenic Reproduction Center (CREE) of the Agricultural Company.
He refers to Trichoderma, a fungus with biopesticide, biofertilizer and biostimulant properties, able to degrade very complex substrates such as starch, pectin and cellulose, among others.
Alberto notes the lack of pesticides for crops such as sweet potato, which can get plague if it is not sprayed on time, and corn, which must be speckled to avoid the attack by pests.
▪️Other links in the chain
Through its semi-protected area, Urban Agriculture makes a remarkable contribution to agricultural production in Alquízar. Its seedbeds guarantee the continuity of vegetables such as lettuce and eggplant, while other flower beds already offer parsley, chard, watercress, spinach, oregano, peppermint and chili.
Marelis Quesada and Antonia Montano are one of the few workers who remain working full time. Some took advantage of the benefit stablished by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, for those over 60 years of age, with conditions that make them vulnerable, other who take care of children; however, there crops attention does not stop.
We could see such spirit in 4 de Abril square , where the UEB of Tourism moves with daily sales to the population, in correspondence with the prices set by the Municipal Administration Council.
▪️From harvest to market
Everything is a constant hustle. Trucks loaded with goods arrive and leave Marketing Company of Agricultural Products UEB. Some come from the productive entities ; others head towards the capital markets or the province itself.
“We have a very well-designed strategy for exceptional contingencies. It is the first time that we have suffered from Covid-19, but we have experienced hurricanes, the Havana tornado and other disasters, ”says Laisdel Sacerio, Technician B in Quality Management.
"The farmers have become sensitized to the situation and, as you see, products come in constantly. The important thing is to strengthen the people's diet.
"We give priority to the capital markets, as requested by the direction of the Ministry and the Agricultural and Forestry Business Group in the province. The food destined for these purposes is located in the UEB marketers of San Miguel, Old Havana, Marianao and Berroa, and they are in charge of distributing ”.
On the day of our visit, some 40 tons of banana fruit were ready to travel to the Cuban capital. There were also carrots, cabbage, yucca, and banana.
▪️Production and protection
In spite of current pandemia negative impact , neither machinery nor tools , much less the arms of agricultural workers, can turn their backs on the land. Of course, in each place, they must take the corresponding protection measures, as they do with masks, chlorinated solutions and soap and water for hand washing.
"We have to prevent our employees and visitors from becoming infected," says producer Alberto Blanco.
And in the Marketing Company UEB there can be no mistakes with disinfection of the trucks tires , because they move continuously to areas contaminated by Covid-19.
Workers know the risk. However, like our doctors , they know that the virus is also fought with good actions, unconditional dedication, a lot of discipline and caution, with the commitment to work with the people in mind.
For them, the agricultural producers, the ones who guarantee food every day from the furrow, we should also dedicate our applause.
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