Oxfam has helped the Cuban Association of Agriculture and Forestry Professionals (ACTAF) convert 13 hectares in the urban periphery surrounding Guantanamo into an organic, urban agriculture farm. 106 stable jobs were created – 51 of the workers are women. The majority live in the neighbourhood and their new union is now pushing for a day-care center for their kids.
`The people like this work because it’s close to their homes. They’re better paid then in other jobs, they can buy affordable fruits and vegetables for their families and they feel they’re doing something important, said Oscar Borges, the Project Coordinator for ACTAF in the province. `For us it has been a great experience to work with Oxfam because there was always dialogue, flexibility, comprehension and respect.
The fruits and vegetables are grown without any chemical inputs. Instead, the farmers produce their own fertilizer using organic compost and worms. They produce their plants in a new greenhouse. The project has contracts with government institutions to deliver produce to hospitals, child care centers and workplaces throughout the neighbourhood of 55,000 people. Their excess produce is sold to local people at affordable prices in a small shop on the farm and by bicycle around the community.
Odalys Puente manages the farm after years as an agricultural worker. For her `our goal is not to maximize our own benefits, but to contribute to good, healthy and available food for our people and be able to live our life with dignity.
A class room has been built and equipped and is used for training farm workers as well as ACTAF members in the province. The project provided input and funds for a new edition of a technical manual for this kind of organic agriculture that will be used across the country.