Agricultor | Fernando Funes | TEDxHabana


Translator: Paula Eason
Reviewer: Sebastian Betti What an inspiration it is to wake
every new day in this place. A project inspired by the memory
of my mother, Martha M. Fernandez, who spent much of her life developing
agroecology in Cuba and the world. Actually the project we’re doing
is to reinvent Cuban agriculture using our own experience. This experience must combine rural wisdom
with scientific knowledge. I completed this doctoral thesis
in Wageningen Uni, Holland, 7 years ago. The title was “Farming like
we’re here to stay”. In other words, an agricultural
system which doesn’t quit. That was the fundamental
inspiration behind this thesis. However, at that time I didn’t really understand what I wanted
to say with this concept. Some years later I understood
that farming like we’re here to stay was much more than the experiments
I had done in my professional life. It was nothing less than a commitment
to the land where we live, Cuba. It has been an attempt
to reinvent ourselves. Our family has taken the decision
to move to the countryside, to face up to big challenges, to take an opportunity
to dream, to feel passionate, to be excited, to experience another way
to develop our country and farming. We had to move far away
from the comfortable city life, particularly from my
established professional life. To start this journey
was really exhilarating. It was something in which we could
completely throw ourselves. Like digging this well in the rock
which took 7 months, and is a metaphor for ecological farming,
for healthy farming, thriving, huge, and abundant,
promoting health, and contributing to a better world. It’s the commitment to dig a well
14 metres in the rock by hand. There is someone who has been
a great inspiration for us. He has been our constant guide
in this journey. This man, who is over there,
I can introduce to you. Juan Machado. (Applause) Juan Machado is a symbol for us, a symbol of the connection
with the Cuban countryside. With the never ending work of the farmers who have entrusted into their hands
this sacred land of Cuba. Together with him,
we have worked the land. Together with him, we dug the well. And, together with him, we have dreamed
of a better future. Juan Muchado, 77 years, is very optimistic
about the future of agriculture, and the future of our nation. We’ve been on this journey now
for several years. At the beginning of the ’90s
my parents and I founded the Cuban Movement for Organic
Agriculture and Agroecology (MCAO). This was the management group
of an association that dreamed of an organic future
for Cuban agriculture; an agroecological future. A future that was fair and equitable and that worked the land
for the health of the Cuban people. Organic agriculture and agroecology
in Cuba grew and has been the inspiration not only
for many people in Cuba but also many people elsewhere. We are a light showing the way for others. Many people in the world see us as an example of the transformation
of an agroecological model on a countrywide scale. All of us who have been involved
in this transformation truly deserved the alternative Nobel Prize, presented in the Swedish parliament
in 1999. Through all this time it’s been
more about inspiration lead by necessity. [Integrated model of food and energy] This diagram makes me think
of the scale of an integrated system, an agriculture and food system. In this case, a model for food and energy. But agriculture is much more than this Agriculture is a passion,
as I’ve already said, it’s love, it’s family, it’s environment, it’s a frog, it’s a butterfly, it’s a flower. There’s no better way to achieve this transformation than
to get involved at a practical level. To do it with your own hands. To combine traditional knowledge
with scientific knowledge, with this shared heritage we have. And continuing along this journey, we have learned how to make
a biodigestor to make biogas and for a long time now
we have been cooking for many people using the biogas which we have produced. Also, we have learned to be beekeepers to grow flowers and to produce lots with high productivity, with a high yield, with great efficiency. Because, for me, as you can imagine, it’s a personal project, a family project,
a project for society, but also a professional project. And this is the result. A harmonious and beautiful result, which we are a part of. We are trying to design diverse
and varied landscapes that give us the strength
to continue moving forward. There are four essential words, four magic words that I have written down on this paper. One is resolve, another is the resources that we have, another is opportunity
and the other is knowledge. These four key words combined with the solidarity
we can have with other people and the results of co-operation
between us all. Talking of a co-operative we don’t belong to the co-operative but the co-operative belongs to us. We are all involved in a transformation to achieve this beauty, this landscape and the vast,
abundant production we all need and that promotes health. So that we can use the resources
we have, like solar energy. So that we can deliver them
directly to consumers and we can enhance the relationship
between consumers and producers. So that we can increase agrotourism to finance agricultural practices. So that we can promote a sufficient
standard of living for farmers, to improve their quality of their life and satisfy their spiritual
and material needs. It’s a new dawn at Finca Marta,
it’s another new day and there we will be fighting
for the future of Cuban agriculture. We have one thought, and it is: How can we achieve this future
for Cuban agriculture? In fact, there is no formula for this. Travellers, there is no path,
you make the path by walking. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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