Did you know that Cuba is one of the world’s great innovators in sustainable farming practices? The Cesar Escalante Credit & Services Cooperative in Boyeros, Cuba is one of 20 farming cooperatives in the region that’s working to develop and adapt agroecological farming practices to produce healthy food in a changing climate. Together, they’re feeding their communities and strengthening the voices of farmers, women and young people to fight for their right to a better life.
The Cesar Escalante Credit & Services Cooperative works with the government to provide technical, financial, and material support to farmers, including irrigation and equipment, to increase the food production and commercial success of small farms. Thanks to agroecology and these farmers’ incredible innovation, a single farm in the region is growing over 1,500 coffee trees, 200 lemon trees, and 1,000 coconut trees. Another farm grows native fruits and vegetables and medicinal plants.
As a cooperative, they decide each year how much of the harvest will be reserved for local families, schools and community programs and how much will be sold to the state for profit. This past year, 80% went to local families and 20% was sold.
Cuban farmers in Boyeros are cultivating their own land–some are working land that has been passed down through generations, while others are getting started on land provided by the government and learning agroecology from seasoned farmers. These small and productive farms are living proof that food sovereignty, the people’s ability to shape and control their own food system, is possible with the strength of community and adequate support from the government.
It’s beautiful to see how these farmers take pride in their harvest and in their community: La comida es nuestra, the food is ours.
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