jueves, junio 03, 2010

Diversity the Best Option for Cuban Farmers
Patricia Grogg interviews HUMBERTO RÍOS, Cuban winner of the 2010 'Green Nobel'

HAVANA, May 31, 2010 (IPS) - Cuban biodiversity scientist Humberto Ríos, one of the six recipients of the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize, probably won't be able to collect the 150,000 dollars in prize money, though that setback is unlikely to cause him to lose any sleep -- or keep him from singing.

"I'm preparing my second album, with my children," he told IPS in this interview. In his April trip to the United States to receive the award, widely known as the "Green Nobel", Ríos visited the White House and the U.S. Congress as part of the itinerary for the six laureates, who came from Cambodia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Poland, Swaziland, and United States.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1990 by philanthropists and civic leaders Richard N. and Rhoda H. Goldman to recognise individuals for their "sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk."

"When I greeted (U.S. President Barack) Obama, I told him that perhaps for the first time a Cuban from the island was shaking his hand, and that I had three things for him: my business card, my music -- I gave him a copy of my first album -- and my heart, for all the people of the United States," Ríos said.

In the 1990s, Ríos began promoting participatory crop improvement and agro-biodiversity fairs as ways to recover and disseminate low-cost, organic plant varieties -- a process in which small farmers are playing the leading role.

The grassroots effort, channelled through the Programme for Local Agricultural Innovation (PIAL), initially involved a handful of scientists and three rural communities. Today, more than 50,000 farmers and a hundred scientists from nine provinces are part of the movement.

Converging in the project are several local agencies and international development aid institutions from Britain, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland and other countries. "PIAL has transformed rural productive systems into more sustainable approaches and has also promoted changes in the relations between rural men and women," he said.

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