Canadian Ambassador visits WFP project in Guantanamo

Canadian Ambassador in Cuba visits WFP pilot project focused on food security and nutrition of children, pregnant women and the elderly. This project, funded by the Government of Canada, began in March 2014 and is benefitting over 61,000 people in the municipalities of Niceto Perez and El Salvador (Guantanamo province), and Union de Reyes (Matanzas province).

"Trust us, this project will give very good results," affirmed Alfredo Torres, president of the Credit and Service Cooperative (CCS) in the province of Guantanamo, when saying goodbye to Yves Gagnon, the Canadian Ambassador in Cuba. Gabriel Valiente was one of the cooperatives visited by Ambassador Gagnon and the World Food Programme (WFP) representative in Cuba, Laura Melo, during a two-day visit to a WFP pilot project focused on food security and nutrition of children, pregnant women and elderly people in this territory.

This project, funded by the Government of Canada, began in March 2014 and is benefitting over 61,000 people in the municipalities of Niceto Perez and El Salvador (Guantanamo province), and Union de Reyes (Matanzas province).

"I have met producers from the cooperatives as well as the seed processing plant and I think that what WFP is doing to strengthen producers’ and cooperatives’ production capabilities is very important", said Gagnon. The Canadian Ambassador also stressed the importance of the different actors who carry out the project: “they believe in what they are doing, in this training process, and in the experience that they are provided with. Canada is proud to support this initiative as part of its Food Security Programme in Cuba".

During the visit, the Ambassador had the opportunity to visit safety-net programs that will benefit directly from donations of beans purchased locally once the project achieves increased production levels. These include schools, nurseries, and centers for elderly people.

At the beginning of the project, a participatory diagnostic was undertaken to identify the major gaps of the bean production chain. Based on this exercise, a capacity-strengthening plan aimed at improving the bean production has been developed for the producers and cooperatives. The plan includes areas such as the preparation of business plans, the adoption of better agricultural practices and new management techniques.

"It is very encouraging to see the benefits of the training that has been carried out: a fair on bean varieties was organised for the first time to allow producers and buying institutions to decide what types of beans are more convenient; the seed processing plant is currently increasing its production; and women are thrilled with the change in men’s attitudes after the gender workshops", said Laura Melo.

The second phase of the project includes the distribution of equipment that will contribute to optimize the bean production of more than 1,500 producers associated with the project. This increase in productivity is intended to support the country's priorities in relation to food safety and food import substitution.

Government authorities at national and local level, as well as other officials of the Canadian Embassy in Cuba and WFP were also present.

See photos from the Ambassador's visit here