Cuban farmers start to export products overseas, eyeing Chinese market

Updated: November 5, 2020 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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After exporting 1.08 tons of limes to Spain and 1.5 tons of avocados to Italy, Lazaro Rafael Fundora, who runs a farm in the western Cuban province of Mayabeque, became the first Cuban farmer to sell products abroad over the past six decades.

The deals came after the government announced earlier that small and medium-sized private businesses would be permitted to export and import products and services through 37 state-run enterprises.

The 52-year-old, who terms himself "an agricultural entrepreneur," inherited the land from his father and lives with his family on the farm, where he grows vegetables and fruits without using any pesticides in keeping with organic farming practices.

"Incomes from exports will improve the living standards of my family and provide the farm with better conditions to continue working hard," he told Xinhua. "Cuban farmers have also the potential to reach the Chinese market with high-quality products. China is a huge country with many inhabitants."

Located alongside the road connecting Havana and the rural town of Madruga, the organic farm, La Esperanza, is planning to increase avocado exports and sell mangoes, papayas and frozen fruits to international buyers.

"It is just the beginning. We are in charge of our future," said Fundora, who is also one of the 600 farmers that supply hotel facilities on the island.

He currently employs 12 people living in the surroundings, and among them is 48-year-old Merida Salazar.

"We have to be very careful when harvesting the fruits from trees. Products to be exported must meet high quality standards," she said.

At present, more than 707,000 gardens and nearly 147,000 suburban farms on the island are part of a national movement aimed at increasing family's self-supply and food production at the local level.

Elisabeth Pena, head of the National Group of Urban, Suburban, and Family Agriculture, told Xinhua that farmers' exports could benefit local agriculture.

"Cuba is an agricultural producing country. Our farmers use environmentally friendly techniques," she said. "We have guavas, mangoes, papayas, and many different fruits we can export to earn hard currencies for the country's economy."

Editor: Liu Ting