Cuba: Exploring the benefits of hydroponic farming

As Cuban entrepreneurs are seeking to meet local demands for diverse food amid the impact of COVID-19 compounded by the decades-long U.S. embargo over the island, the aquaculture industry is gearing up for take-off.

Guido Lopez found Vidabum, an aquaculture business in a nearby  Havana brewery which he turned into a fish farming area. Lester Lopez, the leader of the Vidabum project, told Xinhua that the package of measures approved by the Cuban government to develop agriculture will help improve the nationwide production of food. "We have already sold five tons of fish on the local market," he said. "We are part of a pioneering experience, which could be implemented across the country."

Cooperation between the private and public sectors in aquaculture is set to increase people's access to food, Lopez added. In recent weeks, the Caribbean nation has approved a legal framework to support micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in their business operations.

Although focusing on breeding catfish, Vidabum is also mulling over a plan to increase production of red tilapia. Vidabum project manager Yasmany Martinez said that they are working in pursuit of sustainable development so as to better use natural resources at hand.

"We also want to develop hydroponics farming for the water where fish grow is very rich in nutrients," he said. "We want to experiment with different crops such as lettuce, chard and coriander."

Vidabum has created jobs for nearby residents, particularly women. Among them is Marena Diaz, a 21-year-old technician from the El Cotorro municipality. "Fortunately, the production of fish here is taking off," she said, noting, "Eating fish is extremely healthy as it provides people with a huge amount of proteins and minerals."

"To some extent, Vidabum will bring development and prosperity," she added. 

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