Cuba, EU strengthen cooperation in sustainable agriculture

Cuba and the European Union (EU) reinforce this Tuesday cooperation ties in the fight against climate change, for more sustainable agriculture and energy, according to a EU diplomat.

In an interview with Prensa Latina, the ambassador and head of the EU delegation in Cuba, Alberto Navarro, also considered in that sense the Strategic Support Program for Sustainable Food Security in Cuba (SAS), whose implementation began recently and it will be lasting six years.

This project, which has financial support from the EU of nearly 20 million euros, aims to sustainably increase the production of quality food to meet local demand, specifically through the application of innovative, environmental and resilient approaches.

Responsible for this food project are the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and the EU, and also counts on the monetary support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The ministries of the Food Industry, Public Health, Internal Trade, Economy and Planning, Higher Education, Science, Technology and Environment and Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment are being involved, as well.

The program is very important for the EU's cooperation with Cuba, which is being significantly strengthened, and in which we have tripled the funds in the last two years, Navarro explained.

But beyond the importance of the volume of funds, he pointed out, is the trust we have with the partners of the Cuban government, in this case the MINAG.

There can be no sovereignty without food security and here the EU wants to put its sand grain and contribute to this project, which follows others such as Basal (Environmental Bases for Local Food Sustainability), and the Agro-chains, he referred.

We want to contribute, he said, to Cuba having greater food sovereignty and being less dependent on imports, and at the same time developing healthy and quality products, which is what we all want.

The EU also implements on Cuba a project with almost similar financing, of about 20 million euros, related to the use of renewable energy.

In this strategic sector we want to help to have better efficiency, more rational use of energy resources, less fossil fuels and that Cuba take advantage of renewable energy, Navarro underscored.

We definitely work through cooperation in the areas of a new green economy, the fight against climate change, more sustainable agriculture and energy that help the United Nations 2030 agenda.

According to the Ambassador, the relations between the EU and Cuba, run at a good timing, 'I would say honeymoon after 20 years of drifting apart from 1996 to 2006,' he sustained.

Since December 2016, with the signing of the Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation (ADPC), relations have only strengthened and improved on the basis of respect and trust, he said.

And there are the results of two years of the entry into force of the ADPC: two joint councils, in Brussels and Havana, a multitude of political and sectoral dialogues, multiplied by three financial resources and more and more confidence. I think we are working very well Europeans and Cubans, he considered.

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FAO, EU and Cuba sign food security program

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU) and Cuba signed a food security program, a statement from the parties read on Wednesday.

The press release distributed by FAO in Havana states that the program seeks to support the development of resilient and sustainable food systems.

The document was signed on Tuesday in Havana, referring to the new joint program between the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and the EU, accompanied by FAO and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

This program will be developed through 2025 in six municipalities of Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara, and at the central level, with total funding of 19,950,000 euros.

It includes three projects, focused on strengthening local self-sufficiency for sustainable and healthy food.

It also addresses management capacity for decision processes, policy formulation, and the Integrated Knowledge Management System for food security in Cuba, the two latter executed by FAO.

FAO representative in Cuba Marcelo Resende said the projects will help provide people with healthy food, a right recognized in the new Constitution of the Republic.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Maury Echevarria explained that the development of the agri-food sector is a strategic priority for the country, and thanked the EU and the United Nations agencies for contributing to that purpose.

In addition to MINAG, the Ministry of Food Industry, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX), Ministry of Domestic Trade, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Public Health, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning are involved in the plan.

The Cuban government and the EU agreed the financing agreement for the Strategic Support for Sustainable Food Security in Cuba in April, within the framework of the Multi-annual Indicative Programme for Cuba 2014-2020.

The signing took place during a workshop in Havana, in which Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, and UNDP resident representative Maribel Gutierrez also participated.

Carlos Fidel Martin, director of International Economic Organizations at MINCEX, was also present.

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Over 820 Million People Hungry, UN Calls for Action

United Nations, Jul 16 (Prensa Latina) While more than 820 million people in the world are suffering from hunger and some two billion are in danger of doing so, UN authorities have demanded more daring actions to address the problem.

Presenting the report to the press - for the first time from UN headquarters in New York - the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Jose Graziano da Silva, stressed that hunger is increasing in all regions of the world.

This is largely due to the impact of conflict, climate change and the lack of widespread economic growth across the world.

As the FAO High Representative explained, the report includes several new indicators related to the threat of food insecurity and the perception of hunger.

Although they are not still hungry, many people are not sure that in the near future they will have enough resources to feed their families, he said.

That is why there is an urgent need for greater political commitment if we want to reach the Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goal by 2030, Graziano da Silva assured.

FAO, IFAD, WFP, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated in the drafting of the report 'The State of Food Security'.

  • Published in World

Caterpillars Threaten Food Security of 300 Million Africans

About 300 million Africans could be at risk from the effects of the caterpillar as well as agricultural industries being somewhat hinged on how the pest problem is addressed.

Experts, and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), warned that the infestation of the crop-destroying fall armyworm caterpillars paired with unpredictable weather conditions could severely threaten food security across the African continent.

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A 2017 Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) research found that the caterpillar could cut crop yields by up to 60%, costing 10 of Africa's major maize-producing economies US$2.2bn to US$5.5bn annually in lost harvests.

“Rainfall is not very reliable anymore so when you get a combination of a little drought and the fall armyworm you are going to be talking about no food at all," director general of development at CABI, Dennis Rangi, said. 

"The fall armyworm does not feed on maize alone. It will be able to jump to other crops, which means it will devour any other green thing that is out in the field." The insect - which was discovered in Africa, in 2016 - has spread from 28 countries, last year, to 44.  

Rangi explained that about 300 million people across Africa could be at risk from the effects of the caterpillar, adding that the continent's agricultural industry was somewhat hinged on how the pest problem is addressed.

"Forcefully removing this invasive species cannot be overlooked if we desire this agricultural transformation we are talking about.

The fall armyworm, which was first spotted in Nigeria and Togo has also damaged crops across the region from South Africa to Ghana, eating maize, wheat, millet and rice. They also attack cotton, soybean, potato and tobacco fields.

The CABI official also stated that globalization is responsible for the spread of the pest, which is believed to have come from South America.

The pest has recently been reported in Thanjavur district in India.

“The pest was found in a maize field in Nainankulam in Pattukkottai taluk,” an official from the Agriculture department told the Express.

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FAO Highlights Cuba's Recognition to Right to Food

The representative of the FAO in Cuba, Marcelo Resende, pointed out today that the Right to Food is explicitly recognized as a guarantee for all in the new Constitution Draft in Cuba.

Every father and mother would like to bring to the world a child for whom hunger is not a concern, the official of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) pointed out in his opinion column.

'Each person has the right to be born, complete their day and go to bed without being hungry. Achieving it is possible and the first step on that path is called Political Will. To that name I would add a surname: Real,' Resende adds in his article entitled 'From will to guarantee: a dream that walks to the right.'

According to the FAO representative, the right to food should also be translated into a citizen's guarantee to bring us closer to this Zero Hunger world, which this United Nations organization reiterates is possible.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, about a dozen countries have the Right to Food recognized in their Constitution, says Resende in his opinion column.

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FAO: Almost a Third of the Earth's Soils are Degraded

FAO has noted today that nearly a third of the world's soils are degraded in a world where more than 815 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Improving soil health is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including Zero Hunger and the fight against climate change and its consequences, said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

Land degradation affects food production, causes hunger and malnutrition, increases food price volatility and forces land abandonment and involuntary migration, he said in a video message to the 21st World Soil Science Congress, which runs until August 17 in Brazil.

Graziano da Silva stressed the importance of sustainable soil management and remarked that it is a resource which acts as a filter for contaminants, preventing them from entering the food chain and reaching water bodies such as rivers, lakes, seas and oceans.

'Let us transform soils into a vehicle of prosperity and peace, and demonstrate their contribution to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,' he underlined.

The FAO report The State of the World's Soil Resources identified ten major threats to soil functions, including erosion, nutrient imbalance, carbon and biodiversity loss, acidification, pollution, salinisation and compaction.

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Cuban president visits sites of social and economic importance in Havana

President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez visited sites of social and economic importance in Havana, including the Food Processing Industry Research Institute and the José Martí Metallurgical Enterprise.

Founded in 1977 with the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and cooperation agencies from other countries, the Food Processing Industry Research Institute is devoted to the processing of soy yogurt, fine handmade chocolates, fortified foods, liquid flavors as well as powder flavors, and nutritional supplements for vulnerable population groups, among them children, the elderly and people with specific dietary needs.

The Cuban leader exchanged with authorities and workers at the Institute, highlighting the need to continue improving efficiency and expanding production toward substituting food imports.

The Cuban president also visited the José Martí Metallurgical Enterprise, known as Antillana de Acero, which has received a major investment to refurbish it.   Díaz-Canel described Antillana de Acero as one of the country’s most important industrial facilities, devoted mainly to the production of steel plates and stainless steel barbs. 

During an exchange with workers and executives there, the Cuban president showed particular interest in workers' salaries, working hours and rest periods, food and transportation services. 

Díaz-Canel said the ongoing refurbishing process at Antillana de Acero will have a significant, positive impact on the country's economy. He said it must translate into higher efficiency and salaries, as well as better working conditions.
 

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
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Cuba is an Example for Fighting Hunger: FAO

Resende said that Cuba demonstrated early on that it is possible to fight hunger with political will.

Cuba is an example to the world in fighting hunger, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared Wednesday.

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FAO’s representative in Cuba, Marcelo Resende, said during an interview with the country’s Round Table television program, that Cuba leads in the promotion of agricultural production in the country and the world, as well as the democratization of land tenure, with agrarian reform being a cornerstone of the Cuban Revolution.

Resende said that Cuba demonstrated early on that it is possible to fight hunger with political will.

Currently, there are 800 million people around the world who go hungry despite the fact that food production is seven times higher than the needs of each person, which is due to the lack of political will, pressed the representative.

Resende recalled the words of the late revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, where he had remarked, that from the millions of children who go hungry in the world, none are Cuban.

The representative also highlighted the FAO’s extensive collaboration with the Caribbean island, especially in the areas of natural disasters, hurricanes, seed production. However, he added, FAO has continued to learn more from Cuba than vice versa, even when the FAO has provided technical assistance.

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