La Isla Bonita has long been unable to afford pesticides, so, it is now immune to declining bee populations, its natural environment is pristine, and the production of organic honey has become one of the country’s key agricultural exports.
Cuba produced as much as 7,200 tonnes of organic honey in 2014. This is a record for the island where now the product is fourth in the list of the country’s agricultural export behind fish, tobacco and rum, but ahead of sugar and coffee, according to Theodor Friedrich, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) representative for Cuba.
With the United States’ trade embargo and no local pesticide producers, the nation’s government has basically been obliged to adopt organic farming practices. For this reason, the lands available for honey bees to nest have remained pesticide free and rich in biodiversity.
“All of (Cuba’s) honey can be certified as organic. It has a very specific, typical taste; in monetary value, it’s a high ranking product”, Friedrich told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Most of Cuba’s honey exports are destined for Europe, but now that the US embargo is being eased thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Obama’s administration, bee keepers expect further export growth if the government will support them. Small honey farmers, as a matter of fact, sell all the honey they produce to the government, which pays them according to the global market price and takes on the responsibility for commercialising the product abroad.
Friedrich concluded his interview for the Thomson Reuters Foundation highlighting that Cuba’s pesticide-free bee industry is an important economic source for the island and can globally act as a protection against the problems hitting other honey exporters, who are challenged by declining bee populations.