On March 27, Segundo Diaz took a break from his farm in Colorado to travel to Cuba. Diaz joined 15 other members of the U.S. potato industry on an informational exchange mission to Cuba. The trip began in Havanna, and lasted for five days. The purpose of this visit was to explore the potential for U.S. potatoes in Cuba, specifically potato seed.
They met with officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Commercial Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture. The group was met with “a lot of respect and friendship,” according to Diaz. The Cuban Government is making efforts to revive the potato industry in their country. Potatoes are one of the eight foods controlled by the Cuban Government for distribution and price. The Cuban Government tries to provide 15 pounds of potatoes per person per month at a subsidized price for the 3-month period or less of potato supplies.
The group was then able to view where potatoes are produced. They viewed harvesting at two different cooperatives in the Matanzas and Cienfuegos areas to learn about their specific needs and challenges. The group then viewed potatoes being harvested in the fields of Cuba. According to Diaz, the trip, “opened our eyes” and gave him, “a different concept of Cuba”.
Potatoes USA and the potato seed growers that were part of the information exchange are excited about the prospects in Cuba. U.S. potato seed growers have had much success in the Dominican Republic and Central America, and are confident that U.S. potato seed can improve yields in Cuba.