Paving the Way

by Veronica Mosgrove, La. Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry

What an amazing first full day in Cuba! Today, we visited an organic farm. It is 25 acres of mostly vegetables and some ornamental plants.  

In Cuba, this is the largest co-op with the primary crop being lettuce, but they also grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. This co-op is also the main producer of mint for Havana. People love their mojitos!

Ninety percent of what's produced goes to the community. Ten percent goes to hotels and restaurants.  This particular co-op started with five workers. Now it has 150 workers.

Just like in the U.S., the farmers in Cuba are aging. The average age of a Cuban farmer is 56.  

Cubans also consume the most rice in the Western Hemisphere.  In talking with some of our Louisiana farmers who are on this trip, they seem to be realizing that Cuba could be a major market for rice. We are also seeing that the lack of technology is keeping this country from being truly competitive. Our proximity to Cuba and the quality of our rice can potentially position us to be a great trade partner from an agricultural standpoint.

This afternoon, I also met with a company that imports agricultural products from across the world.  I'll have more on that later.

Meanwhile, we hope that we can build a relationship with this country. We are doing a lot of fact finding and getting a better understanding of the complicated financial and political issues.  We are paving the way as Governor John Bel Edwards will be visiting in October.