HAVANA — Cuba has more than 900 agricultural experts advising farmers in Venezuela, an official Cuban news agency said Wednesday.

The advisers are working on a dozen farming projects in the South American nation under a regional leftist alliance known as ALBA, Agriculture Ministry official Angel Recio told the National Information Agency, or AIN.

Cuba itself has struggled to produce enough food for its own needs, and is forced to rely heavily on agricultural imports it can ill afford. In April, the government announced that this year’s production of sugar, long the island’s key crop, would be similar to last year’s total, which was the worst in more than a century.

Cuban personnel ranging from veterinarians and plant health experts to soil and irrigation technicians are working alongside Venezuelan farmers and giving lessons on things like organic and environmentally sustainable techniques, Recio said.

A land reform project launched in 2008 by President Raul Castro is handing over fallow state-controlled terrain to private small farmers and cooperatives in hopes they can be more productive.

More than 40,000 Cubans work in Venezuela in roles ranging from doctors staffing free clinics to sports trainers under mutual accords.

Venezuela ships more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba under generous financial terms.



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