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Havana. November 5, 2014

New fruit cooperatives plan to
develop some 53 species

Arianna Ceballos

101 of the new fruit cooperatives set up in the country - located in 96 municipalities - plan to cultivate some 53 different species of fruit, based on the climatic conditions and traditions of each area.

"These entities already existed," the Head of the National Program for Urban and Suburban Agriculture, Dr. Adolfo Rodríguez Nodals, told Granma, "but this is now their main social objective."

About three years ago, the Fruit Cooperatives Movement was set up with about 10 cooperatives – which formed part of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) - in 60 municipalities. The vast majority were included in the Suburban Agriculture program.

"Now we are working in line with the framework of this program to have at least one cooperative in each of the municipalities that were not included previously, and this includes not just Credit and Services Cooperatives (CCS) and Agricultural Production Cooperatives (CPA), but also Basic Units of Production (UBPCs) and in very specific cases, some State Farms," Nodals explained.

Mango, guava, avocado, coconut, colored mamey or sapota, custard apple, papaya, soursop, acerola or cherry, louquat, sapodilla, sugar apple and plum are the species that will be planted in the majority of places.

"The production units in semi-arid areas", Rodríguez Nodals noted, "will venture into growing some of the species suited to these conditions which are not grown today such as dates and dragon fruit. A challenge will be to develop the now almost disappeared citruses, such as lemon, sour oranges, Seville oranges, tangerines and limes or bergamot".

According to the official, citrus seedlings will be cultivated centrally in green houses with the technical oversight of the Center for Plant Health, due to problems with existing diseases that affect these plants.

During the last tour by the National Group of Urban and Suburban Agriculture (number 66) it was proposed that, depending on soil characteristics, no less than 20 different species of fruit be planted in this first stage, which extends to January 2016. In addition, it was determined that producers will plant no less than 20 hectares per cooperative.

The National Group also called on all the territories where these productive methods are being used to collect the seeds of rare or nearly disappeared species such as sugar apple, yellow sapote, cashew apple, custard apple and star apple, among others.

Additionally, there are plans to install two juice extractors per municipality and a mini processing plant. "In the case of the juicers," Nodals explained, "we are working to prioritize their location (at least one of the two per municipality) in locations near hospitals".

"During the 66th tour, six juice extractors of this type were inaugurated in Artemisa, eight in Havana, ten in Matanzas, one in the Los Llanos hospital in Maisí (Guantánamo) and one in Santa Cruz del Sur, Camagüey . They are directly managed by cooperatives which contributes to more affordable prices for the population."

Nodals explained that during the next tour (this November and December), the visits will be repeated in order to monitor at least five of the groves already planted, among the planned 20 species of fruit, and review the official planting plan.

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