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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Cuba enters market for organic products

Posted May 27, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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BY RAISA PAGES | Granma International staff writer

Last year coffee, cacao, honey and citrus exports fetched 30-40% higher prices

FOR the first time, Cuba has managed to certify and export four lines of organic agricultural produce – coffee, cacao, honey and citrus fruits – to Europe and Japan.

With these sales, revenue is rising as organically cultivated produce fetches prices of between 30-40 % higher than the non-organic equivalents.

They are cultivated in the most easterly region of the country, where various farms, essentially those managed by campesinos, do not use pesticides.

With respect to coffee – currently undergoing a crisis on the international market – more than 4,000 hectares were certified and sales of 103 tons at 40% higher prices were recorded.

Meanwhile, in Baracoa 1,578 hectares of cacao were approved after tests by international institutions to guarantee the organic status of the harvested cacao pods. This generated sales of some 250 tons of the crop, again at higher prices.

In the case of honey a product currently enjoying a rise in market value 528 apiaries were selected. The first batch of organic honey to be exported weighed in at 36 tons. Citrus fruits were also included in the program and 400 tons were exported.

There is a great demand for organically grown produce in First World countries. People search for ways to conserve their health through a diet free from toxic residues and it is known that many transnationals aggressively employ agrochemicals in order to increase production.

Over the last 10 years, Cuban agriculture has reduced the use of chemicals on plantations by a third, replacing them with bio-pesticides manufactured by agricultural biotechnological methods. In 1989, harvesting one ton of root and fresh vegetables required an application of 460 grams of chemical products, these days only 60 grams need be applied.

This year, according to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is preparing to increase its exports of organic products. Estimated figures are: 360 tons of coffee, more than a 100 additional tons of cacao and, representing the greatest increase, 478 tons of honey in order to take advantage of the high market price of this product.

Many Latin American researchers and NGOs in the United States have affirmed that Cuba is leading the movement for an ecological agriculture in the region.

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