In the first half of the year, farmers in Las Tunas planted some 4,000 acres of vegetables and herbs and harvested more than 34,000 tons of them, an amount that is higher than that obtained between January and June 2013 and that shows how this program is consolidating in this eastern province.
The planting of species such as squash, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers and peppers, among others, surpassed what was planned for this six months while the planting of garlic and onions, especially because of a shortage in seeds, and of cabbage, because of adverse conditions mainly related to pests and diseases, fell short.
Cabbage production was 4.5 percent lower than expected due to the high temperatures and some unexpected heavy rains up until the end of June in certain areas. Despite the decrease in production, it was more than 10,000 tons higher than in the same period of 2013.
According to data supplied by the Office of the Ministry of Agriculture in Las Tunas, the province’s harvest of fresh vegetables and herbs in 2014 should exceed 64,000 tons, both through the extensive system as through Urban and Suburban Agriculture, a project that has enriched the food culture of Las Tunas.
Just a few years ago, the inhabitants of this area of eastern Cuba used to eat traditional vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and cabbage, especially on special occasions. Nowadays, however, their intake of vegetables is more balanced as they have incorporate beets, eggplants, carrots, radish, spinach, beans and okra, as well as other less common species, such as cauliflower, turnips and broccoli, whose cultivation is encouraged, into their daily diets.
At the same time, urban horticulture has introduced and rescued various types of fruit (strawberries, passion fruit, guava from Honduras, Tarango mango or white sapote, among others).
Vegetables are not only nutritious but also very beneficial for human health. Their high water content facilitates the removal of toxins from the body, helps keeping the body well hydrated, bring lots of fibre and helps regulate bowel function and prevent or correct constipation.
They also prevent excess cholesterol and help prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity, gallbladder stones, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Numerous studies endorsed by the World Health Organization show that eating vegetables and fresh vegetables protects people against diseases related to the nervous system degeneration, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer, especially of the gastrointestinal tract and lung.