Food self-supply is an important challenge for Cuba

Leticia Pérez has been given a ray of light in her hands. She smiles. She is sure that it will not escape. She also knows that it is not enough. It is just the beginning, a sign of the horizon. This new batch of fattening chicks indicates success in initial testing. Cuba needs to produce considerable quantities of this meat again.

We are not in the 1980s of the last century, when almost 120,000 tons of poultry meat were produced from Pinar del Río to Granma each year. In 2020 first quarter, they were just over a thousand tons. Now, Cuba  imports about 280,000, at a cost of 300 million dollars, according to Norberto Espinosa Carro, president of the Livestock Business Group.

Besides, the economy has been beaten by  COVID-19 strong impact , which stopped tourism and other commercial activities, reduced foreign exchange availability , and halted convenient foreign investment projects to boost chicken meat production.

According to Espinosa Carro, these projects would be carried out in Pinar del Río, Mayabeque and Artemisa, markedly in Mariel Special Development Zone. It is estimated that they can generate about 100,000 tons.

Meanwhile, in Amistad Cuba Mexico Agricultural Production Cooperative (CPA) in Alquizar , they finish their third breeding of fattening chickens: within 48 hours, they will deliver more than 4,000 birds to the slaughterhouse, which will increase the 9.1 tons of first two batches.

With his knowledge and experience, veterinary technician Osvaldo Capote leads the small group of two women and two other men. Leticia Pérez and Delfina Tejeda give skill in the management of birds.

Not in vain Avícola Artemisa company  and, in particular, Alternative Poultry  Base Business Unit Enterprise (UEB), chose this productive form for the first agreement. Prestige throughout the country, conditions for food and handling, and certification from the Institute of Veterinary Medicine, were decisive.

“Previously, in the cooperative, we had raised laying hens, so the first two breedings of chickens were for study; this is linked, to 20% among the workers who participate. We brought quality chicks selected by us. We receive 3.5 kilograms of quality food per animal, and they have not been short of medicine, " Capote says.

"This is the best way to guarantee meat to the people. In 40 days they already reach two kilograms of average weight. Pigs take 180 days , and require more feed and space. Chickens only need the proper heat, no less in the first days, no more when they grow and get fat. ”

Guillermo Lara Rivero, director of Alternative Aviculture UEB, explains that nine producers in the province are ready to enter this breeding modality as soon as the country's conditions allow it. "There were 41 interested in joining, but not all were complying with the relevant regulations."

Lara Rivero mentions another agreement for the fattening of free-range chickens in Bahía Honda, which also showed  viability, based on the use of creole feed, with 70% of palmiche, 25 of rice powder, plus five percent  of  fishmeal.

In addition, the UEB of Veterinary Services of José Marti  Grains Agroindustrial Company in Candelaria, has  a project of fattening of the same species, although based on industrial feed that Artemisa Poultry Company guarantees.

Cuba has not produced poultry meat on a large scale for more than 30 years. The country  depended on imports from the United States, and then from Brazil, Argentina and other markets. For this reason, Leticia Pérez jealously cares for those chicks that she  gets  very small  and grow rapidly in her hands, like a ray of light that brings us closer to the necessary horizon.

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