Dr. Shurson Travels to Cuba

Dr. Jerry Shurson was invited to travel to Cuba to meet with researchers and administrators at the Instituto de Ciencia Animal (ICA; Animal Science Institute) in San Jose de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba in November. The purpose of the visit was to explore potential research collaborations and technical information exchange programs to improve the long-term sustainability of food animal production in Cuba. Before the revolution in 1959, agriculture was the main economic engine of Cuba’s economy and heavily influenced by the U.S. economy. After the revolution, the Soviet Union heavily subsidized Cuba’s sugar and citrus industries, while providing about two-thirds of its food imports and most of its crude oil, until it collapsed in 1991. Since then, agriculture has contributed less than 10% to the GDP and Cuba imports about 70 to 80% of all food consumed from other countries in Latin America. The lack of access to state-of-the-art agriculture technology, the government focus on supporting small inefficient farms, and the limited impact of Cuban agriculture research has led to serious food security issues. With improving government relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and the recent death of Fidel Castro, animal science researchers at ICA are eager to establish long-term collaborative relationships with selected Land Grant Universities in the U.S. (i.e. University of Minnesota) that excel in research and education in the field of animal science. Their goal is to improve animal productivity and become more self-sufficient and less reliant on food imports. It was a successful visit and a memorandum of understanding is being finalized to facilitate information exchange and research collaboration between our Department of Animal Science and ICA.