By Associated Press, Published: July 20
HAVANA — Cuba has more than 900 agricultural experts advising farmers in
Venezuela, an official Cuban news agency said Wednesday.
The advisers are working on a dozen farming projects in the South
American nation under a regional leftist alliance known as ALBA,
Agriculture Ministry official Angel Recio told the National Information
Agency, or AIN.
Cuba itself has struggled to produce enough food for its own needs, and
is forced to rely heavily on agricultural imports it can ill afford. In
April, the government announced that this year's production of sugar,
long the island's key crop, would be similar to last year's total, which
was the worst in more than a century.
Cuban personnel ranging from veterinarians and plant health experts to
soil and irrigation technicians are working alongside Venezuelan farmers
and giving lessons on things like organic and environmentally
sustainable techniques, Recio said.
A land reform project launched in 2008 by President Raul Castro is
handing over fallow state-controlled terrain to private small farmers
and cooperatives in hopes they can be more productive.
More than 40,000 Cubans work in Venezuela in roles ranging from doctors
staffing free clinics to sports trainers under mutual accords.
Venezuela ships more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba under
generous financial terms.