CUBA: TRAINING AND TECHNOLOGY BOOST FRUIT PRODUCTION TO NEW LEVELS
Fruit sector deteriorating
Despite having ideal agricultural conditions, the Cuban fruit sector was deteriorating: planted areas and production levels were declining significantly. The Government's efforts to reverse this trend have had limited impact, and the following underlying causes were identified: limited experience in modern and sustainable fruit production technologies; and the low availability of plant genetic resources and quality planting materials.
Reviving the fruit sector
A TCP project valued at US$200 000 began in 2000 and aimed to strengthen national capacity to increase production and availability of fruits for internal consumption and possible export. By the project's closure in 2002, FAO had rehabilitated 16 nurseries and 725 hectares of plantation and three germplasm collections. It also supported the establishment of eight new pilot orchards and nine additional germplasm collections. Moreover, 230 producers and 103 experts were trained in selected production and propagation technologies as well as in nursery management. Two manuals on fruit crop propagation and non-traditional fruit species were published. Farmers and technicians quickly adopted the new techniques, which led to the production of two million fruit plants and 1 500 tonnes of fruit for national consumption.
The Instituto de Investigaciones en Fruticultura Tropical (IIFT) has been an important factor in the success of the project by assuring the integration of its activities and recommendations within the government policies and strategies for tropical fruit production. Through IIFT's sustained commitment, the project has played the desired catalytic role in reviving the fruit industry. Between 2001 and 2003, production increased by 88 thousand tonnes, 7 682 hectares of new plantations were established with the most advanced technologies, 3 800 new jobs were created and farmers' revenues increased.
IIFT has continued to put the project recommendations into practice. The established pilot orchards are currently being used to provide training as well as vegetative material. The Ministry of Agriculture is demonstrating its support by allocating a regular budget each year to sustain the plant production sector.
Mango grafts obtained following a fruit-tree propagation training
Training session on the propagation of fruit-trees: mango graft techniques