Due to embargo, Cuban farmers did not have access to plant protection products to protect their crops. An article published in “the guardian” in February 2016, shows that it was a bad thing for a good. Bio in spite of her, the island is today the only place in the world where the bees are in good health. Cuban organic honey is exported very well, and beekeeping is growing there.
For almost 25 years, Cuba no longer had access to pesticides for the protection of its agricultural products
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which was Cuba’s main trading partner, the island was unable to provide itself with pesticides for lack of foreign exchange and because of the state embargo -United. By necessity, the government then adopted a policy of organic farming, which continues today. With the easing of the embargo following the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries, exporters of Cuban organic honey are seeing strong commercial growth.
In Cuba, bees are in very good health because there are no pesticides
the production of organic honey takes an increasingly important place in Cuban exports of agricultural products
Long known for its cigars and rum, Cuba has now added organic honey to its main agricultural exports. The vitality of Cuban beekeeping is disproportionate to the rest of the world where the massive use of pesticides causes the decline of bee populations.
According to Theodor Friedrich, representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (or UNAA) in Cuba, organic honey has become the fourth largest agricultural export in the country, behind fish, tobacco and alcohol but in front of sugar and coffee, which are nevertheless famous products.
“All Cuban honey is certified organic. It has a specific taste, very typical, which makes it a very sought product. “
Cuba produced more than 7,200 tonnes of organic honey in 2014 valued at about $ 23.3 million, according to government statistics cited by UNAA. The country’s output is still tiny compared to global heavyweights, like China, Turkey, and Argentina. But with a value well above the kilo, the lights are green for Cuban beekeepers.
Thanks to a protected, pesticide-free environment, Cuban beekeeping is booming
With 80 hives crowded with bees, each producing 45 kg of honey a year, Javier Alfonso believes that Cuban exports could increase significantly in the coming years. Yet he left nothing. His honey farm at the end of a dirt road in San Antonio de los Banos – a farming town an hour’s drive from Havana – was built with his employees.
“We are still a small production unit, but we can expand,” he said, looking at the rows of new hives, still empty. “
Like other Cuban beekeepers, he sells his honey exclusively to the government, which pays it according to the world market price and then takes responsibility for the sale abroad.
The majority of the export of honey is to Europe, he says. He would like to borrow money to increase his production capacity, but it’s hard to get credit. By necessity, he and his team must build themselves the infrastructure necessary for the development of the farm.
“It’s a very natural environment for bees,” says farm worker Raul Vasquez. The government is not allowed to sell us chemicals. Maybe that’s why bees do not die here. “
Although still modest, the Cuban production of organic honey is now seeking to enhance its strengths in the US market, while other producing countries are in a difficult situation.
In Cuba, bees are in very good health because there are no pesticides: Cuban apiary
The contrast is striking between the health of the bees of Cuba and those of Europe or America
Beekeepers, particularly in the United States and Canada, have long complained about the threat of pesticides to bees and the entire beekeeping industry.
“I do not think there is any doubt that bee populations have declined in the United States and Europe since World War II,” says Norman Carreck, scientific director of the International Bee Research Association, Thomson Reuters Foundation. According to him, climate change, reduced space available for wild bee habitat, diseases and pesticides are responsible for this decline.
For Theodor Friedrich, the low use of pesticides on the island preserves Cuban beekeeping problems affecting other countries exporting honey. And organic honey production in Cuba could become a growing source of income for island farmers.
“The use of pesticides in general is very limited,” he explains. And that’s why Cuba has not been the victim of losses that have affected bee populations in other parts of the world. “