Cuba farm technologies and soundwaves to combat invasives
Nov 12, 2015 by David Bennett in Farm Press Blog
Playing politics: The drying up of ag and food sales to Cuba
New U.S.-Cuba relationship needs to be two-way street
After visiting Cuba several years ago, my father returned home with many
great stories about island, the architecture and, yes, the cars. But the
Cuban people are what impressed him the most. The educational level of
the Cubans was especially mind-blowing for him.
I have since spoken with others that have traveled to Cuba and they tend
to say the same thing. Cuban translators for tourists are actually
trained physicists, geologists, you name it. So it probably should come
as no surprise that there are plenty of agricultural researchers working
on the island.
The trade embargo being lifted will certainly benefit U.S. agriculture
and provide Cuba with quality food. But might the benefits to the U.S.
farmer also be the flow of knowledge from Cuba to our shores?
Several stories – although one suspects they’re heavily propagandized —
have appeared lately touting Cuban agricultural products and breakthroughs.
At a recent tech fair in the Caribbean, the Cuban Center for Genetic
Engineering and Biotechnology showed off Gavac “an immunogen that
provides for better control over ticks and tick-related infections in
cattle,” according to the report. The product “reduces the use of
chemical insecticides … while diminishing the risk of diseases being
transmitted by ticks, improving an animal’s natural capacity to respond
to an infection without increasing their resistance to treatment.”
Another of Cuba’s show ponies, HeberNem, is an “eco-friendly insecticide
against roundworms, or nematodes.”
In other research news, Florida scientists are looking at the use of
sound to combat the invasive psyllid that vectors “citrus greening” and
is a huge threat to the U.S. citrus industry. While in its infancy and
not about to stop the need for pesticide sprays anytime soon, the sound
machine shows promise. It works like this: when a male psyllid emits a
mating call, a device responds with a fake female callback. Eager to
reach the female, the male then heads to the device where it becomes
stuck on something akin to flypaper.
Tests in orange groves are yet to begin. However, in lab testing of the
device, researchers have found the male insects are four times less like
to locate a mate.
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