Cuba could be new outlet for North Carolina agriculture business

HAVANA (WTVD) -- On Sunday, a delegation of North Carolina farmers, agribusiness executives, state agriculture officials and NC State University officials is headed to Cuba. They are hoping it is the first step in trying to sell the country agricultural products. Analysts believe Cuba could become a $2 billion a year market for American farm products.

ABC11 traveled to a farm outside Havana to examine what kind of reception the group from North Carolina can expect and what kinds of opportunities they may find to boost the North Carolina economy.

We discovered Cuban farmers do not use any chemicals, only organic farming techniques.

Julio Gonzalez-Piedra, a 25-year-old Cuban farmer, said the North Carolina farmers can learn from him how to farm without chemicals and how to make vegetables taste better. Gonzalez-Piedra also said there are things the Cuban farmers want to learn from American farmers.

"I think it's a great level of excitement there's wonderful opportunities as Cuba is opening up its doors to trade," said Rich Linton, the dean of the N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Linton is going on the trip to Cuba.

"Farmers, agribusiness, food processors could benefit, equipment manufacturers, seed and chemical manufacturers, I mean it's all facets of agriculture," added Linton.

One of the farm managers in Cuba, Yamila Bermudez, said there are a lot of opportunities for North Carolina farmers to sell their products in the island nation.

"There are opportunities here, it needs to be a reciprocal arrangement and we can learn from each other," said Bermudez.

Farming techniques are primitive in Cuba. They use oxen to plow fields and machetes to harvest. Bermudez said there are also great opportunities for American businesses to sell tractors and farm equipment.

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