Farmer Juan Miguel Machado Andino

Taking care of the environment and making the most of each of its resources to obtain better results is what Juan Miguel Machado Andino, a farmer from the municipality of Las Tunas, does not fear the hard work of every day.

Las Tunas, Cuba.- For some 30 years, when he was just a boy, he has tended the land belonging to his family, and on these lands on the outskirts of the city, he feels proud because he preserves many trees planted by his ancestors and sees others that he planted with his own hands grow.

"The farm is not big, it is only a little more than five hectares. But there is room for a lot of production, which is achieved thanks to the application of scientific and technical advances in the different categories and varieties of crops.

Farmer Juan Miguel Machado Andino"I have a good number of timber trees and a fruit tree that guarantees a part of what is sold at the juicer of the Niceto Pérez García credit and service cooperative (CCS, in Spanish), to which I belong. And, of course, each of these plants is important.

"Here there are loquat, grafted and wild guava, anoncillo (Bajan ackee), and other varieties. We have grafted many mangoes on native trunks and we are trying cocoa and coffee. In addition, we have the guapén or breadfruit tree, which is a fruit, although it acts as a high-quality viand and resembles yam, cassava, sweet potato, or taro."

In his paradise - as he likes to call it - Juan Miguel raises rabbits and semi-rustic and Creole hens. He protects his animals with passion, especially at night, to prevent malicious people from throwing away his daily efforts.

"Once you have animals, you have to take care of them because they are the food and nutritional security of the family and the community, which also benefits. That's why I look for alternatives so that they grow fast and healthy, which is also necessary.

"To feed them, especially during dry periods, I use all the waste from the trees. First of all, there are the benefits of the fruits, which are good for people and animals. But there are also the leaves, which are ideal during dry periods.

"Sometimes people only think of planting sugar cane or King Grass. However, the use of tree resources is ideal because it makes production cheaper and that is much better. The fallen leaves can even be used to produce bio-compost, an excellent nutrient for crops.

The days go by quickly for this producer, who declares himself to be a fervent nature lover. That is why he prioritizes species that provide nitrogen to the soil and promotes living barriers with coconut, cañandonga, and other tall plants that protect the crops from strong winds.

He hardly has any free time, but when he can, he listens to the radio or comes to the city and shows his nobility by bringing part of his crops and livestock to share with the patients in their mothers' homes and with the children without family support.

He also talks with friends about how to diversify production, make the soil more fertile, or multiply a certain species. And he always reiterates his idea that it is possible to get the farms on the right track to have food and protein. "But you have to put heart and soul into it! Like in Cuba.