Saturday, September 30, 2017

Camagüey’s Antidote to Pessimism 
Throughout the vast geography of this Cuban province, especially in the agricultural sector, a categorical and exemplary concept is gaining momentum: beyond talking about Irma, its destruction and the losses everywhere, another hurricane is apace - that of the huge efforts underway to recover

Miguel Febles Hernández |
September 19, 2017 16:09:48
Much of the citrus fruit blown down in Cubitas has been sent to processing plants or markets.

CAMAGÜEY.— Throughout the vast geography of this Cuban province, especially in the agricultural sector, a categorical and exemplary concept is gaining momentum: beyond talking about Irma, its destruction and the losses everywhere, another hurricane is apace - that of the huge efforts underway to recover.

This is the philosophy gaining ground across these plains, to shake off any lament, pessimism, or inaction, which can be as harmful, or more so, than the deadly ravages of the tropical cyclone itself, in its destructive autumnal “excursion” along the entire northern coast of Cuba.

Such was the view expressed by Jorge Luis Tapia Fonseca, president of the Provincial Defense Council, who, although aware of the considerable damage to the agricultural sector, is certain that the province is capable of responding, and makes clear that none of its productive commitments have been altered.

The strategy going ahead is well defined: after the huge blow of seeing months of efforts in the creation of new root vegetable crops lost, all human and material resources are now destined to the recovery and an urgent food production program.


Each of Camagüey’s productive units is aware that accelerating (rather than getting held up with secondary matters) the collection of as many fruits and vegetables that remain and can be consumed, either by humans or livestock, is the immediate and crucial task.

“This has to be done, especially in the case of plantains, with a lot of agility, as every second of delay in the rehabilitation work can be detrimental to the plantation,” warned Odelio Rojas Gómez, machete in hand, a worker at the Las Flores plantation, in Nuevitas.

Carlos Hidalgo Rodríguez, president of the Niceto Pérez cooperative, located in the same area, agrees with this view. He has transmitted to his fellow members the need to be ready to work hard, taking advantage of the current soil moisture to prepare the land and restart the sowing tasks.

“Today, this is what each campesino must do,” he noted, “in the sense of also using resources optimally, striving to do things well, without any carelessness, and contributing all that we can to minimize, as far as possible, the shortfall that will occur in some types of root vegetable.”

Meanwhile, Hernando Gutiérrez Rodríguez, director of the Nuevitas Agricultural Enterprise, explained that to this end, the winter sowing plan has been readjusted, to grow a greater number of varieties over a greater number of hectares, staggering crops, and applying alternatives that will result in more food for the people.


Clear that there will be no miracles, other than the fruits of their own efforts, Camagüey’s cattle ranchers are taking advantage of the increased water and improvement of pastures to ensure that the last four months of the year contribute to the planned milk campaign of 88 million liters of sales to the dairy industry.

Pig farmers are not far behind, determined to recoup as soon as possible the damages in their specialized units, individual producers’ facilities, and in the province’s feed factory, in order to restart the breeding and raising of pigs and not jeopardize planned growth in meat production.

Workers of the Camagüey Apicultural Unit likewise remain committed to producing 700 tons of honey, with the center and south of the province having committed to making up the production shortfall of the four municipalities in the north, as practically all coastal flowers were lost.

“We will resolve this ourselves,” stated Yoandri Abad Escobar, director of the provincial Poultry Enterprise, referring to the work being carried out, with the support of two brigades of roofers from Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, to protect birds and gradually increase egg production.

“Not a minute was wasted here: while all roofing sheets that flew off were collected and straightened for reuse, the women were responsible for ensuring food and water for the chickens,” added Santiago Sierra Pupo, administrator of the Antonio Suárez farm, in the municipality of Minas.

With more than 314,000 layers, this territory is responsible for the distribution of eggs to the entire northern circuit of Camagüey. As such, in addition to repairs, the units are being cleaned to avoid any hygiene-epidemiological complications and reduce animal deaths.


Waking up the day after the hurricane passed to see the ground covered with grapefruit and oranges they had grown with such care, in the lead up to the new harvest, still moves the workers of the Sola Agricultural and Citrus Enterprise, in Sierra de Cubitas.

“This is the symbol of this municipality and, therefore, we must give our all so that it isn’t lost,” stated Raúl Bárcenas González, director of the entity, while closely following the collecting of grapefruit in the Cuba-Argentina Friendship basic unit of cooperative production.

“A batch can be saved and is already being sent to the processing plants, or other market destinations, but a large volume was impossible to recover, because the fruit is either badly damaged or fell when still not ready for harvest,” explained José Antonio Ibáñez Soria, head of the Antonio Maceo comprehensive farm.

Accustomed to overcoming adversity, citrus growers are also immersed in clearing the ground, fertilizing, and pruning, to rehabilitate old plantations and protect the 260 hectares of developing plants that will guarantee the permanence of citrus fruits in the red earth of Cubitas.

“We have a lot of work to do, but the important thing is not to let ourselves be traumatized and to impose our will to succeed,” Bárcenas González stated, determined to maintain unchanged, with his feet firmly on the ground, the entity’s development program, in the best interests of the country.

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