Cuban Farmer Builds Resilience With Biodiversity
In just five short years Arcel Antonio and his wife Marisol have established a farm homestead that gives testimony to the abundance and resilience found in bio-diverse, agroforestry and annual cropping systems. Arcel Antonio explained to visiting ECHO staff that he is able to provide for nearly 100% of his families food needs even in recent times of drought because he has so many crop resources from which to choose.
Their small farm in Colón, Cuba consists of plantings of various fruit trees (mango, banana/plantain, citrus, jocote and coffee) scattered amongst Royal Palms, perennial vegetables such a moringa, field crops (cassava and corn) and vegetables such as peppers and sweet potato. The farm is meticulously maintained with just the labor of Arcel Antonio, Marisol and their son. The perennial crops and fruit trees depend solely on rainfall, while the field crops and vegetable beds are irrigated by a simple system of ditches that carry water from a well located on the property.
Because inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides are difficult to obtain Arcel Antonio is a diligent composter, nothing from the farm is wasted. His small flock of chickens provide manure for his compost piles which are made mostly from banana leaves/stalks and vegetable trimmings. In addition he has learned how to use readily available natural solutions, such as neem to help fight against losses from insects. He reports that insects haven’t typically posed much of a threat which he attributes to his daily inspection of the farm which helps him detect and deal with problems while they are still small. Arcel Antonio and Marisol are enthusiastic teachers of their good practices to their neighbors and their farm has rapidly become a hub of training and exchange.