ROME. -The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) highlighted today the high index of human development of Cuba (0.775) as the result of the universal and free access to basic services, the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

In the report 'Program of National Strategies' dedicated to the Caribbean island in the 124th session period of the Executive Board of that United Nations Agency, that sessions today and tomorrow, it is highlighted that Cuba is the only small nation in Latin America 'to have eliminated severe infant malnutrition'.

It also says that 'despite these advances, Cuba is highly dependent on food imports (between 70 and 80 percent of consumption)', thus food security and the increase of agricultural and livestock production is a priority for the Cuban government.

The text of the international organization with headquarters in this capital recognizes that transformation in the agricultural sector of Cuba, and confers an increasing role to cooperatives, which manage the 69 percent of farmlands against 31 percent of state areas.

For this reason, IFAD gives great importance to 'ensure that the cooperatives have the capacities and adequate technologies to respond to the demands of the country’s internal production

In that sense, the (2019-2024) program of that specialized agency for Cuba has as the strategic target to contribute to the development and strengthening of human and social capital of those agricultural production units to improve their productivity and yields; competitiveness and integration in the agricultural and food chains in order to generate new opportunities for women and youngsters.

It also pursues to raise the adaptation and resilience capacities of rural families through the diversification of production, in order to reduce the negative impacts of climate change or the economy and to improve food security and nutrition.

In that direction, the plan aims to promote the strengthening of organizations, to improve the access to management skills, the quality of technical assistance and the access to cooperatives’ market, as well as an increasing participation of women and youngsters.

It includes according to the report, the promotion of investment, inputs, technical assistance and training for greater diversification of farm production and the adaptation of small producers to climate change, through good practices, information systems and early warning, as well as the articulation of other institutions.

Also, IFAD will cooperate in favor of increasing the space for agricultural cooperatives, to incentivize the production of the competitive chains aimed to the substitution of imports, and to increase the consumption of nutritious foods.

The projects will be directed to the provinces with potential to increase the agricultural and forestry production, with a high degree of cooperative concentration.

Also, the eastern regions of the country whose rural population is more exposed to climate, social, economic and food vulnerability will have priority.

IFAD will contribute with funds and will mobilize additional resources to promote the economic progress of inhabitants of poor rural zones, mainly to improve the agricultural productivity.