Climate change: Cuba mitigates its impact on agriculture and natural resources

This issue is particularly dire in the Caribbean, directly affecting the availability and quality of water in coastal aquifers.

“The islands, commonly small, are very vulnerable to all these circumstances because we have no rear, no where to move,” rightly says Arnaldo Alvarez Specialist of the Ministry of Agriculture.

From the point of view of the availability and distribution of water resources, Cuba is a very vulnerable country, because rain is the only source of water supply, no major rivers and their major aquifers are vulnerable to saline intrusion.

“Climate change causes the soil to degrade very significantly. High intensity rainfall, cyclones and hurricanes and the penetration of the sea leading to increasing salinity, require specific measures and the inevitable competition of the farmers themselves responsible for implementing technical measures proposed by the Institute of Soil, “says the Doctor of Science Mario Riverol, a researcher at the research center located in the city of Havana.

In the 80’s, a survey showed even then the magnitude and intensity of the degradation processes.

For example, the results showed that over 40 percent of the land suffered erosion processes, alarming for its impact on agricultural yields.

According to the latest reports, the soils in Cuba also have high levels of poor drainage, salinity and acidity, while a low level of organic matter.

Let us also, as experts warn that the effects of climate change are threatening forests as a consequence of rising sea level (the case of mangroves) and mean temperatures, extreme natural events like hurricanes and lower of rainfall.

It is therefore necessary to continue improving the coverage of forest areas, Cuba program’s goal of plantations by 2015 is expected to achieve 29.4 percent of the national territory with forest.

In addition, saltwater intrusion occurs in various parts of the country, following the damming of rivers, deforestation and coastal erosion.

They say that to the south of the province of Mayabeque in Batabano Gulf and La Broa Cove, in a swamp surrounded by mangrove irreversibly damage has been done.

A Cuban expert presentation entitled “Future climate projections for Cuba and the Caribbean”, presented in March 2008 in the workshop “Global Change and Environment. Global trends, results and future projections”, says that in the last five to six decades, coastal erosion has caused a reversal of the shoreline between 30 and 90 meters, with the removal of the first strip of red mangrove which is the main coastal protection in the area.

The authors predict that due to rising sea level, the Zapata Swamp, south of Matanzas province and the largest wetland in the Caribbean will largely disappear.

Drought is another frequent climate threat to agriculture and is a major obstacle in the country’s efforts to ensure food security.

That which affected the country from 2002 became the most critical event of this nature that Cuba has faced since the last century.

In this context, the Government Strategy to Counter Drought until 2012 was defined, with emergency, medium term and strategic measures.

In this sense the country has long been working against the impact of climate change on natural resources, agriculture, forestry and health, among others, and put in place all its scientific-technical, economic and social potential with the assistance of the mass organizations and political bodies, government authorities and various agencies.

The prevention, risk and vulnerability studies, how to mitigate them in each place or area threatened by the effects of climate change, and the education and training of the population, constitute the core of these efforts on the Island.

Translated by: Daysi Olano

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