Cuba_Road side vendor selling bananas to man in blue shirt
Photo: CARE

5 Min Inspiration: Growing 1,200 tons more food

Yusnielas, a cooperative member, says, “I was a housewife, and [this] gave me the possibility to start working… I worked in a nursery, which I had never done before. It has been good for me because I bring a good salary to my family, I have enough money to be independent, because I am a woman and you know that before, there was this idea that women could not work here… it has been a good solution”.
PROSAM ran in Cuba from 2015 to 2022, with funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) worked through the Institute of Soils (IS) and accompanied by CARE Canada and OXFAM Canada. The Project PROSAM worked to “increase agricultural production for women and men in the selected urban and peri-urban municipalities.” The project works to strengthen capacities with the Agricultural Municipal Delegations (DMA), the Soil Institute and the producers to promote local food self-sufficiency in the provinces of Artemisa, Havana and Mayabeque.

Cuba_Woman in greenhouse with growing greens

Photo: CARE

What changed?

  • People grew more, and more diverse, food. Overall, people grew 1,221 TONS more food. That’s more than 8 times more food produced in 2021 than in 2015. They grew 740 more tons of vegetables, 10 more tons of livestock, and 480 tons more fruit.
  • Incomes went up, and the gender gap in incomes went down. Between 2015-2021, men increased their income by 85% and women increased theirs by 150%. By 2021, women were earning $90.20 US (2,165 pesos), and men were earning $83.21 (1,997 pesos).
  • People are using more local inputs. 41% of men and 38% of women are accessing more local inputs. There is still work to do here; people still mention low availability, lack of options, poor quality seeds and lengthy procedures due to bureaucracy.
  • Women feel more powerful and respected. Yusniela says “My family admires me much more. People in the community tell me that everything is good. Furthermore, men and women treat you the same because now everything is equal. In other times, women were discriminated because it was said that women were not able to do the same jobs as men. Now men admire women because women have the same capability as men and also they have the same benefits because women can are able to do what men do. (...) In the members assembly women are considered and women ́s opinions are taken into account.
  • Local businesses created 246 new jobs. 47.15% of those jobs went to women. Anna, a female producer shared that “A change in PROSAM Project was helping us repairing the seedling-houses. They gave us enough dishes for being able to achieve two million seedlings per year. By means of that help, we can give employment to several women.” Reinier Fundora Brito says, “Now the family works, and besides that, I have permanent employees. For a half-time session, I pay 100 pesos per four hours of work. We had to create new employment for the selling points. We created 10 new positions with four women and 6 men.”
  • Water systems and energy are stronger. The project installed irrigation systems, water tank facilities, and solar panels. This provided better access to water to produce seedlings, organic fertilizer, and vegetables. Juana, a female producer shared with us“We are very happy. We have four or five houses benefitted (…) people who live across from the street already have access to water and other neighbors who are looking for the materials to make the installation of the pipes; it is not the same to have only a bucket of water than to have it enough; of course, not to waste it, but for the satisfaction of the house needs.”
Cuba_Woman in pink flannel with motorcycle behind her

Photo: CARE

How did we get there?

  • Connect closely with the local government and local businesses. Organization and linking with management among all municipal actors has a positive effect on sustainable food production. With, at the same time, considering the limitations in the powers of the Municipal organisms and how this can affect the execution of actions.
  • Build tools and evidence together. The joint construction of methodological tools and their validation as action research has guaranteed quality and functionality according to the project's goals. The inclusion of gender indicators/questions has contributed to effective mainstreaming.
  • Focus on women’s leadership and gender equality. One key was intersectionality in gender gaps and promote including women in leading roles to influence change in the imaginaries and in the distribution of economic resources and power. Also, the exchange spaces between women must have diversity in participants to promote sisterhood. At the same time, it is crucial to disaggregate data by sex, to apply measures for gender equity and equality.
  • Get farmers and business owners to invest, too. The financial contribution of producers for the development of the initiatives contributes significantly to the sense of belonging, allows faster progress in the execution of the different actions, and help to reach more beneficiaries. This led to faster and more noticeable results.
  • Agroecological production with a value chain approach, increases the participation and leadership of women, and play a part in increasing the quantity, quality, variety, and security of food in the municipalities.
Cuba_Woman holding lambs in her arms

Photo: CARE

Where do we go next?
Among the social effects and impacts showed in PROSAM, like, increased production and supply of healthier products to the population and vulnerable sectors, and improvement of living conditions of producers and their families, efforts must go on. For example:

  1. Promote a focus on agroecology and climate change, by at the same time, creating linkages between territories and local stakeholders should be improved, especially with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  2. Systematizing lessons learned must be a priority for future projects to improve practice and critical reflection.
  3. From a gender perspective it is important to promote data collection methods that are sex-disaggregated and increase the allocation of resources to women-led projects and promote their participation in income generating activities.

With the goal of having communities that shared and live María del Carmen’s experience, “We, women, have had much help here. In the community, we have been able to employ many women. There are almost more women than men working here”.
To get more information on the PROSAM project, click here.