– After the economic crisis in the 90s, it was important to develop urban agriculture in Cuba. As it became difficult to provide enough food for the family and urban agriculture provided good income, many well-educated people in the cities left their jobs to become urban farmers. Many vacant plots of land in and around cities were used to grow food and keep animals like goats, sheep and rabbits.
Because Cuba had no access to fertilizers, they had to learn organic agriculture. ACTAF works to develop agriculture and forestry in Cuba. The organization supports urban farmers with access to seeds, organic fertilizers and pesticides and promotes exchanges of technologies among them. ACTAF offers training and bring researchers and producers together to develop better and more efficient agriculture.
Joaquin Perez Segui is an example of an urban farmer. Ten years ago he retired from his job as an agricultural engineer in Havana. In his backyard he keeps livestock such as goats, sheep and chicken. He also delivers goat milk to the local cooperative. Urban farmers are allowed to sell their products on the open market, but only after submitting a portion to public institutions such as nurseries, hospitals and retirement homes.
Joaquin was given a plot of unused land by the government to produce fodder. He makes his own fodder by blending green plants with beans and corn (for protein) and egg shells (for calcium and phosphorus). The plot is close to his home, along the highway into the city. Every morning after milking and feeding the goats, he goes to the plot to work the land. In the afternoon the goats graze by the roadside. He wants to expand and hopes the government will give him more grazing land. His goats already produce a lot of milk, but Joaquin hopes to access, through ACTAF, more productive animals that will produce more meat and milk.